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Tim Howard injured in Everton's Boxing Day loss

The American goalkeeper went out with an apparent calf injury.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Everton lost to Stoke, 1-0 on Boxing Day, but the day was especially bad for Tim Howard. The American goalkeeper was subbed off with a calf injury and had to watch as the Toffees slumped to a loss.

If Howard's injury is minor, it won't matter much. Yes, the Toffees would prefer to have him, but he's hardly been in spectacular form so it's not like they would be missing the sensational Howard of the 2013-14 season. It also wouldn't do much to affect the United States either.

Howard is still taking his break from the U.S. and won't play internationally again until after the Gold Cup, at the earliest. At face, Jurgen Klinsmann may not care much that Howard is hurt. After all, he's not a U.S. player right now, but everything Howard does matters. Can he stay fit? Will he play well? Is he worth bringing back into the team?

As incredible as Howard was a year ago, and as amazing as his performance against Belgium was, he has not been very good for months, he's getting older and he will have been away from the U.S team for a year come September 2015. With Brad Guzan having been the No. 1 and been the starting goalkeeper for the Gold Cup, Howard can't just walk back into the team. He has to be in good form and right now, he isn't. Any serious injury, even if he's back well before September, won't help. Hopefully Howard will not miss much time and can find his form to challenge Guzan by next fall, but it's not a given and bears watching.