Yesterday, Tim Howard announced that he is taking time off from the U.S. National Team until September 2015 in order to spend more time with family. This move opens up the competition for spots on the U.S. roster for goalies which could provide Sean Johnson with the chance he has been waiting for.
The U.S. has been well-covered at goalie for awhile until now. In Howard's absence, Brad Guzan will get his long-waited and deserved shot at the number one jersey for the U.S. He has been patiently waiting his time and now is his time. Howard's absence will create an open spot on the roster for friendlies and the 2015 Gold Cup. This open spot will be on that Sean Johnson hopes to make his own.
The third goalie at the World Cup, Nick Rimando, is 35-years-old but Klinsmann has said he will still get his chance with the national team but will almost certainly not be with the national team at the next World Cup. Sean Johnson has the opportunity to establish himself as Rimando's eventual replacement as a regular for the stars and stripes and perhaps take his career to the next level.
With the possibility of two open goalie spots on the roster, there will be many young goalies fighting for the position. Tally Hall and Bill Hamid will most likely be Sean Johnson's main competition. After Johnson's blunder in Olympic qualifying in Nashville, he has been looking for a chance to prove himself again to Klinsmann and this is it.
There will not be a better chance for Johnson than there will be this year. He will receive call-ups to camps and friendlies over the next year, that isn't the question. It's what he does with those call-ups and what he continues to do with the Fire that will determine what happens with Johnson when Howard returns. Klinsmann has made it clear that he supports Howard but said that "he knows that he has to prove that he deserves to be back." Howard will have to earn his spot back with the team but that should just be a matter of time, even though crazier things have happened (hello Landon).
Sean Johnson is now facing a crucial point in his career. At 25-years-old, he is getting close to the prime years for a goalie. With a strong 12 months, Sean Johnson can cement his spot on the U.S. roster for the 2015 Gold Cup and beyond which could turn into a high-profile move to Europe.
Tim Howard is stepping away from the U.S. team and Nick Rimando is too old to be considered for the next World Cup cycle which opens up two spots for goalies on the roster. Sean Johnson will not get a better chance to impress Klinsmann and European teams than this. The only question is will the Milkman deliver?