The United States' 2015 has been a disaster, from a failed Gold Cup to a CONCACAF Cup loss. But things start anew on November 14 with the start of 2018 World Cup qualifying. Jurgen Klinsmann needs to turn the team around, and he's said he wants to get younger as part of his continued evolution of the team. So with that in mind, as the Americans gear up for qualifying, we attempt to create a depth chart for the team, position by position. Figuring out what Klinsmann is thinking is a fool's errand, so this is what our depth chart would be and we'll talk about how we landed here.
Ryan: Goalkeeper has always been a strong point for the U.S. For two decades now, the Americans have always known that they have a great backstop, but those days are no more. Tim Howard is aging, Brad Guzan hasn’t become the sterling keeper many thought he’d be and there’s not a younger player who has taken the job and run with it. So what does the U.S. have?
Rob: Dare I say a goalkeeping controversy? Klinsmann seems to be a Guzan supporter, but after the CONCACAF Cup, who knows where his loyalties lie. Howard played adequate against Costa Rica, so I don't believe he hurt his chances at all of taking the spot. However, Jurgen has declared that he wants younger players in the fold . Could that open the door for someone like Bill Hamid?
Ryan: I don’t think Bill Hamid has been given a fair shot by Klinsmann. I get that he’s not playing under the most pressure at D.C. United, and his new contract with the club probably means he’s staying there long-term. That doesn't endear him to Klinsmann at all, but he’s only 24 years old and the best goalkeeper in MLS. Those horrible errors and mental mistakes that marked the early part of his career are, generally, gone, and he certainly makes fewer gaffes than both Howard and Guzan. He should be in every single camp and playing in matches because he deserves every chance to win the job that Howard and Guzan will get.
Rob: I absolutely agree. On pure talent and athletic ability (and performance?) he deserves to be in the conversation. Unfortunately, as much as Klinsmann preaches about a youth movement, we've yet to see any evidence of it actually happening. Most likely Howard and Guzan are left to fight it out. Guzan is younger and is most likely the safer option if we're thinking long term, but if we're talking for next month's qualifiers who would you choose?
Ryan: I think, from hereon out, we're in a position where Klinsmann is best off giving the top three all a chance to win the job. They all get an opportunity to win it and if it's close, Hamid gets the job based on potential and future. I would bet on Hamid being the Americans' best goalkeeper come 2018 so if he's close now, give him the gig and let him run with it.
Still, my guess is in an even competition, Howard wins the job. It's why I have him top of the depth chart now and I'd guess he rightfully starts the first World Cup qualifier. But Howard, Guzan and Hamid are all close, all should be in the mix and if I'm doing this depth chart before the Hex, not even before the World Cup, I think Hamid will be top of the list.
Rob: I hope you're right. I have no issues with Howard being at the top because I think all three are close as well. Timmy is a legend and has done nothing but take a break from international soccer to hurt his standing. Guzan for me is more likely to be the starter from here on out just because Klinsmann has decided to give him the job and isn't a fan of admitting his mistakes. Not that his decision was necessarily a mistake. For our depth chart purposes I have no issues with Howard taking top spot, but I hope you are correct about Hamid.
Ryan: And Ethan Horvath is fourth because he could be the future. If you have Howard and Guzan, not to mention Hamid, you don’t need another dependable option in case all goes to hell and someone gets hurt. You have your dependable cover. That extra spot for a call-up to get some training time in is best spent on a goalkeeper who can develop, which means Horvath. Zack Steffen could be the future and even the starter in five years, but he’s not even playing first team soccer right now. Cody Cropper may get a look too, and he is playing first team soccer right now, but Horvath looks brighter. Nick Rimando has been great, but he’s not really necessary anymore, aside from maybe Camp Cupcake.
Rob: Horvath's brilliant performances in the Europa League have thrust him into the conversation. I'm excited to see more of him. He's earned the #4 spot on his potential and his club performances. I think Steffen is the brightest prospect we have. He's been outstanding for the U-20's and the U-23's, he just needs to break into his club's first team to be a true USMNT candidate. I don't rate Cody Cropper at all. He's too mistake prone to be relied upon at the international level.
Rimando has had a great MLS career, but for my money Hamid has been the better keeper for the last two years and should've been getting the spots that Rimando was occupying in all these games. There's just no room for another aging keeper on the depth chart in the beginning of a World Cup qualifying campaign.
What do you think of the U.S. goalkeepers and what would your depth chart look like?