Tim Howard's midseason move to the Colorado Rapids has paid dividends for both sides – and helped Howard, a shootout hero in the Western Conference Semifinals, regain the top spot for the US national team going into the first two Hexagonal matches of World Cup qualifying.
On Sunday, in announcing his camp call-ups ahead of Friday's home match against Mexico and Tuesday's trip to Costa Rica, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Howard – a former No. 1 who more recently had been splitting time with Middlesbrough's Brad Guzan – would be the starter going into the Hex stage.
Howard has been solid for the Rapids since arriving from Premiership side Everton and taking over in goal on July 4, with a 1.12 goals-against average in 17 regular-season starts, and has conceded just once in two playoff matches. On Sunday, the two-time World Cup veteran capped the Western Conference semis with two saves in the penalty stage of Colorado's victory over the LA Galaxy after the two sides finished the two-leg series tied 1-1 on aggregate.
Guzan, meanwhile, hasn't stared for Boro – where he moved in the Premier League offseason after Aston Villa's relegation from the top flight – since Aug. 28, having been beaten out for the top job by Victor Valdes.
Klinsmann took the unusual step of calling in four 'keepers for this camp, with Howard and Guzan joined by Molde FK's Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough of Club Leon.
"Obviously, Tim Howard came back and he's back to No. 1," Klinsmann told Fox Soccer's Rob Stone. "And at the same time, we're trying to develop, over the last couple of years, younger goalkeepers coming in."