Jurgen Klinsmann didn't just name his final 23-man roster for the Copa America on Saturday. He also named his No. 1.
Klinsmann announced that Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan will be the starter when the USA begins its participation in the tournament on Friday, June 3 vs. Colombia.
As of Thursday, new Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard and Guzan, who starred in MLS before making the move to England, were not yet sure who would get the nod. But Klinsmann erased all doubts with his comments on FOX at halftime of Saturday's New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls matchup.
"We will go with Brad Guzan as the No. 1 in the Copa America," Klinsmann said. "That's our decision that we made. We had good talks with both goalkeepers. Tim Howard is there to support Brad 24-7, but it's important that also both goalkeepers know what is the ranking right now as of today. The No. 1 is Brad Guzan and the No. 2 is Tim Howard."
Howard, who is the USA's all-time leader in appearances by a goalkeeper (107), took a year-long hiatus after his heroic performance at the 2014 World Cup and Guzan replaced him as No. 1 during that time. When Howard returned to the fold in September 2015, he started two of the USA's final six matches of the year, serving as backup in the other four.
This year both were called up for the two World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in March and they took turns in goal. Howard was the netminder for the 2-0 road loss, while Guzan backstopped the USA in a 4-0 home shutout victory.
"We believe that Brad deserves it," Klinsmann said in a separate quote sheet provided by US Soccer. "Brad, throughout the last two years, played very consistently and very solid with us. He had a very tough year with Aston Villa, there’s no doubt it, but he knows that, and for many, many reasons. But it’s also a different environment.
"Tim Howard finished a huge, huge chapter in his career with Everton Football Club. He’s always going to be a legend for Everton, and he did wonderful things with that club. But he wasn’t with us for a year after the World Cup, and he also lost his starting spot the last half of the year with Everton, so we think that in that moment Brad has a little bit of an edge and deserves it.”
Ethan Horvath, who plays with Molde in Norway, was named the third-string 'keeper for the Copa America tournament.
“We brought in Ethan Horvath as a third goalkeeper to build him for the future, to learn from Tim Howard and Brad Guzan but also to get his first taste of what such a tournament means," Klinsmann said.
"Obviously we now left out [Real Salt Lake goalkeeper] Nick Rimando, who we admire a lot and an upcoming goalkeeper like [San Jose Earthquakes GK] David Bingham and a William Yarbrough [with Leon in Mexico] who have a bright future ahead of them," Klinsmann said, "but we decided to really go with Tim Howard and Brad Guzan as the two leaders still because we believe their experience and their leadership will help us a lot."