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Brad Guzan will start for USMNT's first World Cup qualifier, Tim Howard the second

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Guzan will be the United States' starting goalkeeper for their first 2018 World Cup qualifier on Friday against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Tim Howard will start four days later when they play at Trinidad and Tobago. Jurgen Klinsmann announced the team's plans for the goalkeepers on Thursday.

Klinsmann said in October that he planned to rotate the two goalkeepers for the start of qualifying, potentially for up to a year. Starting Guzan for the first match and Howard for the second fits with that plan so it doesn't appear as if anything has changed.

Howard was the American's starting goalkeeper for seven years through the 2014 World Cup, but then he chose to take a year off from international soccer to rest and spend time with his family. In that year off, Guzan took over as the team's starter and did an adequate job. When Howard chose to return to the national team in September, Klinsmann found himself with two goalkeepers that had proven themselves to be capable starters. He rode Guzan through the CONCACAF Cup in October, citing his recent play with the team while Howard was on a break, but that the competition would be opened up afterward.

There are a couple ways to read Guzan starting on Friday with Howard going next week. One is that Guzan has the leg up and that's why he's getting to start the first match of the United States' qualifying cycle. The other is that Trinidad and Tobago are a much tougher opponent and it's a road match so Klinsmann starting Howard on Tuesday is indicative of the greater trust he has in the Everton man. It's also possible that Klinsmann isn't leaning one way or the other.

Neither Howard nor Guzan is in great form so it's not like one of them has a clear claim to the job. In fact, opting for a younger, more in-form option like Bill Hamid might make sense, but Klinsmann has his two and they will rotate. Guzan on Friday, Howard on Tuesday.