Howard, the starter since 2007, missed the snowy 1-0 win over Costa Rica and the 0-0 tie at Mexico after breaking two bones in his back while playing for Everton on Feb. 26. The 34-year-old returned to the English club’s lineup last Saturday.
Guzan, 28, took over as Aston Villa’s starting goalkeeper from Shay Given in September. He had not played in any qualifiers in four years.
“It is just great to see Brad kind of breaking through and having the starter’s job now at Aston Villa,” Klinsmann added. “The level he played those two games just makes you feel a lot better now having such a strong No. 2.”
During a round-table discussion at Major League Soccer’s office, Klinsmann discussed his 20 months since taking over from Bob Bradley and talked about the need for American players to push their way onto bigger clubs in more competitive leagues _ as long as they get playing time.
He said the pressure on players in MLS is not the same as the stress they face in Europe. He cited Landon Donovan, who has played for the Los Angeles Galaxy since 2005 with only brief loans to Bayern Munich and Everton. Following a sabbatical of nearly four months, the 31-year-old midfielder hopes to rejoin the national team, and Klinsmann is monitoring Donovan’s progress.
“Landon has maybe a bad game here, he won’t be bothered the next day going to the Whole Foods market to get his groceries,” Klinsmann said. “You have a bad day in London or in Milano, you might not go to the market the next day.”
Klinsmann, a former star forward and coach of Germany’s national team, is tied for sixth on the career list with 11 World Cup goals. He has more top experience than any other U.S. national team coach, playing for Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Monaco, Tottenham and Bayern Munich.
Since retiring as a player after the 1998 World Cup, Klinsmann has lived most of the time in Southern California, where his home is not far from Donovan‘s. Klinsmann says he hasn’t been hassled after U.S. defeats, able to do his shopping in peace.
“It’s no problem, and it’s definitely a nice thing,” he said, contrasting it to his experience in Europe. “I faced the people and I went the next morning to the baker and the butcher and got the stories in my face. When you lose against AC Milan, a derby with Inter, then good luck next day”
Seeking its seventh straight World Cup berth, the U.S. is 1-1-1 in the six-nation final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean, which will send at least three teams to next year’s tournament in Brazil. Costa Rica complained bitterly about the conditions after the March 22 loss in a snowstorm at Commerce City, Colo.
Klinsmann says the game would have been a blowout in calmer conditions, with the U.S. likely scoring two or three goals.
“Obviously, second half you play on 3 inches of snow, it’s almost impossible to create real chances,” he said.