It is almost certain that Colorado Rapids gaffer Pablo Mastroeni was tuned in to his TV last night to the US Mens National Team take on Mexico in the first game of CONCACAF final qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He probably wasn’t thrilled with what he saw.
Tim Howard came up lame after kicking the ball in the 35th minute. He soldiered on, but after an awkward attempt to kick long to the midfield in the 40th minute, Howard was replaced by Brad Guzan for the remainder of the game. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle reported the injury as a right groin strain.
Tim Howard said he hurt his groin. "It’s sore. We’ll let the adrenalin wear off & see what the scan says in the morning." #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) November 12, 2016
USMNT manager has yet to rule Howard out of next Tuesdays clash against Costa Rica, but conventional wisdom says he probably will either be on the bench or return to Colorado for treatment in advance of the Rapids MLS Cup Semifinal game in Seattle.
In the event that Howard isn’t ready to go in 10 days time for his MLS club, backup GK Zac MacMath would most certainly be the replacement. MacMath played 17 matches for the Rapids this season, recording 6 clean sheets and earning the teams co-MVP award, along with Howard.
Few other MLS teams this season were blessed with a backup keeper who played as often and as well as Zac MacMath, so things could be worse for Colorado. Still, a healthy Tim Howard by next Tuesday certainly would be preferable.
Howard recorded two saves for the USMNT against El Tri before coming off.
Overall, the night for the US was a mixed bag. The team came out in a 3-5-2 formation, which Juan Carlos Osorio’s Mexico countered by high pressing all three US centerbacks man-to-man for the first 15 minutes. During a break in the action, Michael Bradley spoke to Jurgen Klinsmann, and the team switched to a more familiar 4-4-2. The US conceded a first half goal to Miguel Layun, but got one back shortly after the second half kicked off as Jozy Altidore made a fantastic turn and served a ground pass into the path of streaking striker Bobby Wood. The Hawaiian native took two touches and slammed home the equalizer. However, in the 88th minute, the US conceded the deciding goal to ageless wonder Rafa Marquez on a corner. Marquez met the ball with his head at the near post and flicked it to the far corner of the goal to grab its first three points in this round of World Cup qualifying. Meanwhile the US goes on to Costa Rica next week with zero points to begin their World Cup campaign.
two three of six teams from the hexagonal qualify automatically for Russia. The third fourth place team enters into a playoff with the runner-up from FIFA’s Oceania region.
In other news, Jermaine Jones had a productive night for the national team. Jones was active on the defensive and played the full 90 minutes, but recorded no key passes, assists, goals, or shots on target. Jones took three shots in the game; two were blocked, and one skittered well off target. Still, Jones fitness and overall effectiveness in stymieing a very dangerous Mexico attack were still positive signs for the Rapids midfielder.
Get well Tim! We need you back. And soon.
11/13 UPDATE: Tim Howard diagnosed with a right adductor injury.
11/14 UPDATE: Howard will have season-ending surgery on 11/17