U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

Howard in spotlight as spectator for El Salvador game

March 26, 2009

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Goalkeeper Tim Howard will be a spectator Saturday when the U.S. national soccer team visits El Salvador for its second World Cup qualifying match.

Howard was suspended one game because of yellow card accumulation in the 2-0 win against Mexico on Feb. 11 in Columbus, Ohio. Backup keeper Brad Guzan will start in his place.

"The rules are the rules," Howard said after Thursday's final practice in Miami. "I always want to be playing. I think that goes without saying. I think everybody does.

"Will it be difficult? Well, I'll just be rooting for the guys and I'll be into the game, it will be intense and I'll be hoping for a good result."

For Guzan, it will be a chance for him to see if he can keep up his past success in World Cup qualifiers. He has three shutouts in 11 appearances. This will be the first time he has played in Central America during his career, and he knows how important it is to take advantage of this chance.

"Anytime that your name and number is called you want to be able to help the team," Guzan said. "I've always prepared myself in practice as if I was going to be playing, and I had to approach it that way if anything ever were to happen to Tim. So my mindset hasn't changed at all."

Coach Bob Bradley is confident Guzan will be ready to handle what comes with playing in a hostile environment such as El Salvador. Guzan also has the confidence of his teammates, especially the defenders.

"Every time he comes in, his sense of what we expect is very good," Bradley said. "I think he's learned from Timmy. Brad has his own qualities. For a young player he's mature, very good in the group and he'll be ready."

Defender Oguchi Oneywu, kept out of Thursday's practice as a precaution with a mild knee sprain, is expected to play Saturday.

The U.S., seeking its sixth straight World Cup berth, hosts Trinidad and Tobago in a qualifier April 1 at Nashville, Tenn., before qualifying takes a break until June.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press