Tim Howard returns to the USMNT squad for crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers

“If he continues to remain healthy and makes progress he’s obviously going to get strong consideration for the call-ups in March.”

Those were the words last week of US men’s head coach, Bruce Arena, when referring to Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard and his chances of being named in the squad for upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.

Howard had not seen action since suffering an adductor injury during the USA’s loss to Mexico in Columbus on November 11, forcing him to miss the Rapids’ Western Conference Championship games against eventual MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders FC.

It took 90 minutes and seven saves for Howard to announce his return to action, and his heroics in the 1-0 loss at New York Red Bulls were clearly enough to convince Arena that the Secretary of Defense was worthy of a call-up.

On the factors that will determine which of Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando would start against Honduras, Arena said: "The health of all three goalkeepers (is a factor), but in Rimando, Guzan and Howard we have three experienced goalkeepers, and I'd feel very comfortable playing any of them.

"Once we get into camp on Sunday, and we see how our players get out of the weekend matches and how they look in training, will determine who starts in the goal."

Howard has made 111 appearances for the USA's senior side, having made his debut in a 1-0 victory over Ecuador on March 10, 2002. He is one of only 17 players in the history of the men's national team to have reached 100 caps or more.

"Getting called-up to the national team is a great honor," said Rapids' head coach, Pablo Mastroeni. "Tim getting called-up is a reflection of the commitment that he still has, and more importantly the effort that he put in during the offseason to get back to full health and be available for this part of the season.

"It's great for both club and country, and I just look forward to see him continuing to improve and gain his footing as we continue on into 2017."

The USA are currently bottom of the standings in the final round of 2018 World Cup qualification, having lost their first two games, to Mexico and Costa Rica. They have eight games in which to avoid missing out on the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986.

The first three teams will be guaranteed a spot in Russia next year, with the fourth-placed nation facing the side to finish fifth in the Asian qualifiers over two legs in November.

USA's remaining games:

March 24, home to Honduras; March 28, away to Panama; June 8, home to Trinidad and Tobago; June 11, away to Mexico; September 1, home to Costa Rica; September 5, away to Honduras; October 6, home to Panama; October 10, away to Trinidad and Tobago.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough/ENG), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER)

Team

P

W

L

D

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Costa Rica

2

2

0

0

6

0

+6

6

Mexico

2

1

0

1

2

1

+1

4

Panama

2

1

0

1

1

0

+1

4

Honduras

2

1

1

0

3

2

+1

3

Trinidad and Tobago

2

0

2

0

1

5

-4

0

United States

2

0

2

0

1

6

-5

0


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