Tim Howard has two fractures in his back and might miss four weeks, Everton FC Manager David Moyes announced Friday in Liverpool. The timetable would rule him out of the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica on March 22 in Denver and at Mexico four days later.
Meantime, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Hope Solo will be sidelined three to four months after undergoing wrist surgery for a long-standing injury. She will miss at least half of the Seattle Reign’s inaugural NWSL season, as well as international friendlies at Germany and the Netherlands.
The Howard-Solo news comes a day after Jill Loyden broke her hand in practice at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, sidelining her for three months.
The biggest loss, though, is Howard, who suffered the injury 10 days ago in the FA Cup against Oldham.
“We don’t think he will be out for the season,” which ends in mid-May, Moyes said on the club’s Web site. “I read that [Newcastle defender Fabricio] Coloccini could be out for seven weeks [with a similar injury] but we are not sure how long Tim will be out for because, obviously with a goalkeeper, he has to dive around and hit the ground.
“It might be that, if everything goes well, he misses next week’s game as well and then because of the international break he might be close after the rest because that would be four weeks.
Moyes said Howard “has two fractures, but they are not bones that are supporting anything. It is off the spine. They are not weight-bearing. It just needs a bit of healing time. It is not like a pure fracture where you need to wait to look at it. It is a question of whether he can cope with the pain. The bones will heal themselves but it’s not good.”
Howard, who turned 34 this week, has 86 caps for the United States and has been a regular since 2007.
With Howard unavailable, Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan moves into the No. 1 slot for the U.S. team, which lost its opener in the final round of World Cup qualifying last month and needs at least three points from the next two matches to regain its balance.
Guzan, 28, has 20 caps and started five qualifiers in his career (all in 2008-09). In England, he has started 26 of 28 league matches this season for relegation-endangered Villa.
Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando and Chicago’s Sean Johnson are the strongest candidates for the U.S. back-up positions in the approaching qualifiers.
As for Solo, the timing was right to correct an injury that has bothered her for some time. The U.S. team does not have any major competitions until next year. She was not included on the Algarve Cup roster. Veteran Nicole Barnhart started in a 5-0 victory over China on Friday in Portugal.