Howard’s new Everton contract could pit him vs. Guzan in 2018 World Cup

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

By PATRICK MACDONALD
Staff Writer

With the World Cup less than two months away, there’s plenty to discuss about the squad that’s heading to Brazil. And yet, a move was made Thursday that could have significant ramifications going forward to 2018.

Everton signed Tim Howard through the 2017-2018 season, leading the Jersey native right into the 2018 World Cup. It’s a move that could go a long way to deciding who will mind the net in Russia.

The prevailing theory was that Tim Howard, who just turned 35, would hang up his national team boots after this World Cup and Brad Guzan would finally get his turn being the number 1 for the U.S. Even Howard has said he’d like to finish his career in MLS. At 35, it would seem like there’s no better time than after Brazil to come home, but as Howard’s two predecessors Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel have proven, one can play keeper at a high caliber for a very long time — even in the Premiership.

So, what does this mean for Brad Guzan, the United States’ 1A option? It would seem that Howard passing the reigns to the Aston Villa netminder has been put on hold, but that doesn’t mean Guzan can’t heat up the competition. Guzan is statistically one of the best keepers in the Premier League despite the fact he’s on one of the worst squads. There’s no reason to assume he can’t be as good, if not better, on a European club further up the ladder. Guzan needs to seek out a transfer this summer. Single-handedly keeping Aston Villa in the Premier League for two years running is enough.

All of this assumes that Howard will remain playing at a high level. Cracks have appeared in his game in recent years. But if Guzan makes an aggressive push for the National Team job by transferring to a top club, it will only cause Howard to work harder. The U.S.’ strongest position will only get stronger, and the team will be better for it in 2018.