Tim Howard fractures bones in back, out for USA's March World Cup qualifiers

Alex Livesey

The United States will be without their number one goalkeeper for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers after Tim Howard fractured two bones in his back.

Tim Howard will be out for several weeks after fracturing two bones in his back, leaving the United States without their first choice goalkeeper for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Brad Guzan is the obvious choice to replace Howard in goal for the U.S. considering he has been Howard's backup for several years and may actually be in better form for Aston Villa than Howard is for Everton.

Howard was injured in Everton's FA Cup fifth round replay against Oldham when he was fouled by Robbie Simpson and fell awkwardly. He rose with a grimace on his face, but still finished the match. A scan afterward revealed the two broken bones, though.

It is unclear exactly how long Howard will be out for. Fabricio Coloccini has a similar injury and his timeline to return has been pegged at three to seven weeks. Everton manager David Moyes didn't say exactly how long Howard would be out for, instead just saying that he doubted the goalkeeper would miss the remainder of the season. If that is the case, Howard will be back when the U.S. next convenes in May and June for training camp, friendlies and World Cup qualifiers.

Guzan is in the midst of a tremendous season for Villa, giving the club something to be proud of in a dreadful season. He won the starting job from Shay Given early in the season and is now the undisputed No. 1. In fact, Guzan has been so good that there is an argument to be made that he is playing better than Howard, who has had one of his worst seasons since joining Everton.

The concern for Guzan is how quickly he and the defense can get acquainted. He has barely played with the U.S. defense, but since the defense has been a revolving door of players of late anyways, that concern is mitigated somewhat.

Guzan does have some experience in crucial World Cup qualifiers. He played in the United States' 2-2 draw at El Salvador during the 2009 final round of World Cup qualifying when Howard was suspended, an experience that will prove valuable when the U.S. hosts Costa Rica on March 22, then even more so when they travel to Estadio Azteca to play Mexico on March 26 and he is in goal.

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