It is a striking fact: we are now well beyond a year past the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And with a four-year interval between each Cup, it is more than fair to say that some major changes will be made to the U.S. squad before 2018. Simply put, some key cogs of the 2014 squad will have aged to a point where they simply will not be able to make the 23-man roster.
Amid the sadness of the thought, we find a wonderful chance for prognostication. Here is the first in a series of articles that will set forth my early thinking on the U.S. squad that will lace up their football boots in Russia in 2018.
It starts, as few will be surprised to see me write, with speculation around the U.S. goalkeeper. Goalkeeping talent is something that the U.S in ample supply. It is a healthy group of talent:
- Brad Guzan: While the Aston Villa keeper has run into a stretch of bad form, he is a great talent. In my mind, he is set to rebound. He makes the short list and will get a hard look for 2018. However, with Aston Villa currently sitting dead last in the EPL, it raises the inevitable question, “Does Guzan have the intangibles? Can he not only perform in goal, but raise the performance of the entire team?” The verdict is out on that score and it is the narrative to watch in the weeks and months ahead.
- Bill Hamid: The young 24-year-old keeper could very well be the next big thing in American goalkeeping. A product of the D.C United Youth Academy, he seems destined to play Champions League level-soccer in Europe. If he develops, he very well could challenge Guzan for the starting keeper role come 2016-2017. Hamid is one to watch –the big talent and interesting bet for 2018.
- Tim Howard: The star of the 2014 Brazil World Cup, Howard will be 39 by the 2018 World Cup. He will probably make the team, but not get meaningful minutes. He is a top-flight keeper and it will be very interesting to see if he can make the roster. Landon Donavan was the aging casualty of 2014. Will Howard follow suit in 2018 or does the lesser physical demands of keeper position afford him the chance to continue to contribute to the squad? We will see.
It may seem to some readers like June 14, 2018 is a long way away. For U.S. national coach Jurgen Klinsmann, however, it must feel like the odyssey that is the World Cup has already started. Success will demand a quality keeper. Klinsmann has several good options as he heads down the path to 2018.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the best U.S keeper and what the composition of the U.S. squad should look like. USA! USA! USA !