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Keeper Tim Howard could miss World Cup qualifiers

March 08, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard stops a shot at the net during practice at Florida International University.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard stops a shot at the net during practice at Florida… (Hector Gabino / MCT )

The underperforming U.S. national team's road to the World Cup got considerably more difficult Friday when doctors in England announced that keeper Tim Howard could miss several weeks after breaking two bones in his back.

Howard, who captained the U.S. team in its World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras last month, was hurt playing for his English club team, Everton, in the FA Cup last week.

The U.S., which must finish among the top three in its six-team qualifying pool to secure an invitation to Brazil 2014, plays host to Costa Rica, then travels to Mexico for its next two matches later this month.

Everton Manager David Moyes did not rule out Howard for either game.

"He has two fractures, but they are not bones that are supporting anything. It is off the spine. They are not weight-bearing," Moyes told reporters in England. "It just needs a bit of healing time. It is not like a pure fracture where you need to wait to look at it. It is a question of whether he can cope with the pain. The bones will heal themselves, but it's not good."

Brad Guzan, the first-choice keeper for English club Aston Villa, is among the candidates to take Howard's place in the American lineup.

The U.S. is already missing Landon Donovan, the leading scorer in national team history. Donovan, who helped the Galaxy to the last two Major League Soccer titles, remains on a self-imposed sabbatical. He said he intends to return to training with the Galaxy during the last week of March but probably won't be fit enough to play until late April.

Howard wasn't the only U.S. national team keeper to go down this week. Hope Solo, who led the U.S. women's team to consecutive Olympic titles, underwent surgery Thursday to repair torn cartilage in her left wrist.

Solo, widely hailed as the best women's keeper in the world, is expected to miss three to four months.

And on the same day Solo went under the knife, one of her backups, Jill Loyden, broke a bone in her left hand during training for the Algarve Cup in Portugal. She is expected to miss up to three months.


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