USMNT: "Howard injury tough, but we have guys that can step up," says Johnson
The news of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard’s injury layoff last week sent a few nervy shockwaves across the U.S. Soccer bough this week as the U.S. Men’s National Team prepares for important World Cup qualifying matches later this month vs. Costa Rica and away to Mexico.
With the first-choice American goalkeeper now unavailable for those pivotal qualifiers, it seems Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson could continue to receive calls as a reserve goalkeeper, likely backing up former Fire PDL backstop Brad Guzan at the end of the month.
READ: A Fire Return for Guzan?
"[The injury] is a tough one,” Johnson told Chicago-Fire.com this week. “I spoke to Tim after the game against Oldham and asked how he was doing. He said he had a bit of pain. Obviously now he’s out a few weeks which is a blow for him, Everton and obviously the U.S.”
“That being said, things happen, and I feel like we have guys capable of stepping up: Brad Guzan, myself, Billy [Hamid], Tally [Hall], Nick [Rimando]. We have a good core of goalkeepers that can get a job done.
With 85 caps to his name, the 34-year-old Howard has held the number one goalkeeping spot for the U.S. since the 2006 FIFA World Cup and has played nearly every important match for his country in that time.
Johnson has gotten to know Howard not just through recent national team camps but as well as two offseason training stints with Everton.
“You never want to see a good guy go down. It’s tough because you see certain players keep themselves in good physical condition – Timmy is one of those guys. When he’s hurt, you know he’s really hurt.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully staying in the mix this year and hopefully getting an opportunity to go to the qualifiers and help the U.S. get results.”
Whether or not he sees time in World Cup qualifying this year, there is potential for Johnson to earn a few more caps for the U.S. this summer with Jurgen Klinsmann expected to take a younger side to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Later this morning, the Confederation which represents North and Central America as well as the Caribbean region is expected to announce that Soldier Field will host the tournament final at the end of July.
The iconic Chicago stadium last hosted the tournament final in 2007, a 2-1 U.S. win over Mexico which sent Bob Bradley’s side to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.