October 10, 2011
By Michael Lewis
IN SEARCH OF . . .
A younger backup for GK Howard
When he looks at the U.S. National Team goalkeeper depth chart, coach Juergen Klinsmann is worried.
|Who is the heir apparent for Tim Howard at goalkeeper? That is what U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann is trying to find out.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
After Tim Howard, he feels there is a great drop off, especially in the next generation of goalkeepers.
While the former MetroStars standout is 32-years-old and is in his prime and shows nothing that he is slowing down, Klinsmann wants to know where the next quality backup and his heir apparent is.
“One position certainly is not so easy is who’s behind Tim Howard,” Klinsmann said in a Friday conference call. “What would happen if, God forbid, there might be an injury happening to him or whatever. I think we lack the next generation of goalkeepers after Tim Howard, the 25-, 26-year-old goalkeeper that is an automatic No. 2.”
Brad Guzan, 27, had been the No. 2 man for quite some time, but he has found it difficult to break into the starting lineup at Aston Villa in the English Premier League. In contrast, Howard is the starting keeper at Everton in the EPL.
“That is why we are building Bill Hamid right now, bring him to the camp, give him the experience,” Klinsmann said. “We are very happy to see his development as a goalkeeper with D.C. United. The most important thing for him right now is to get every game we can get. Ben Olsen [D.C. coach] is taking good care of him.”
Hamid, who turns 21 on Nov. 25, has recorded a 1.37 goals-against average in 24 games, while backstopping seven shutouts and registered a 7-6-9 mark for United in Major League Soccer.
“The five-, six-year younger generation after Tim Howard doesn’t have the presence that it should have,” Klinsmann said. “Brad Guzan could play that role, but he is not playing in his club. If he’s not playing in his club team, it is almost impossible for us to call him because you need games.”
At one time, the U.S. was tripping over world-class international goalkeepers. It started with Tony Meola and continued with Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel. In fact, at one time there were more American keepers starting in the EPL than English-born goalkeepers.
But the well has run dry a bit.
“The most important thing for all these players is to play games week in and week out,” Klinsmann said. “If a player sits on the bench somewhere, it doesn’t matter if its in MLS, in Europe or in Mexico, he will struggle to find his spot on the National Team and also going forward on the Olympic team.”