Jul 2, 2014, 8:21 AM EST
If U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard makes his fourth World Cup team in 2018, he will be the oldest American World Cup player (at 39, by two years) since the U.S. returned to the tournament in 1990 for the first time in 40 years.
But what about 2016? Howard back in Brazil for the Rio Olympics would be intriguing, but the prospect faces hurdles.
In 2000, Howard made his only U.S. Olympic Team but did not play as a backup to Brad Friedel. The U.S. finished fourth.
Ever since, Howard’s age limited his Olympic chances. Olympic men’s soccer rosters are made up of players under 23 years old, with three exceptions per nation.
Recent Games have seen stars among those exceptions — Andrea Pirlo in 2004, Javier Mascherano and Ronaldinho in 2008 and Ryan Giggs and Luis Suarez in 2012.
Another obstacle is qualification. The U.S. cruelly missed the 2012 Olympics, giving up a stoppage-time goal in CONCACAF qualifying to El Salvador when it was seconds away from advancing to a winner-goes-to-London game.
Another issue is the Copa America Centenario in 2016, which runs June 3-26. The 2016 Olympics are Aug. 5-21, creating a possible scheduling conflict.
Copa America, which crowns South America’s soccer champion but also invites two non-South American nations, is traditionally not held in Olympic years. But CONMEBOL wanted to celebrate its 100-year anniversary by holding a special tournament in 2016.
So special that it’s allowing a non-South American host for the first time. That host is the United States, as if the U.S. Men’s National Team needed any more incentive to field its best possible squad.
Howard’s age, U.S. qualification and a crammed schedule aside, he does have domestic goalie competition in his favor.
His World Cup backup, Brad Guzan, already got his Olympic experience playing in 2008.
The third U.S. keeper at the Brazil World Cup, Nick Rimando, is only three months younger than Howard and therefore less likely to be near Howard’s form two years from now.
The top two goalies from 2012 qualification, Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson, were big reasons why the U.S. failed to make the Olympics for the second time since 1976.
While three overage players are allowed at the Olympics, the qualification rosters must be all U23s. Should the U.S. qualify for 2016 with a strong U23 goalie effort, it might be tough to bench him for a player who did not help the nation qualify. And what would the purpose be of using one of those three overage roster spots on a backup goalie?
There’s plenty of time for changes, though. We won’t know if the U.S. will qualify for Rio de Janeiro and, if it does, the final makeup of the Olympic roster until 2016.
Nov 28, 2014, 2:57 PM EST
How the venues for basketball, swimming and other sports are coming along.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:33 AM EST
The youngest Olympic slalom champion tries to emulate one skier above all the rest — an Olympic men’s champion.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:17 AM EST
Kostner, the Olympic and World figure skating bronze medalist, is taking this season off.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:01 AM EST
Coe sees problems with the World Championships and Diamond League.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:41 AM EST
Olympic champion’s status for World Championships in January is unclear.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
Grand Prix final picture includes plenty of Americans.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:42 AM EST
Legal battle may not be finished, however.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EST
Japanese site could break a 46-year Winter Olympic streak.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:47 AM EST
Tikhonov died earlier this week at 84 after a long illness.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:15 AM EST
Olympic champion hopes to return for Beaver Creek next weekend.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:06 PM EST
Full schedule of coverage across World Cups, Grand Prix events and World Championships.
Nov 26, 2014, 7:42 AM EST
Sister-brother team had bronze medals, but the official results didn’t reflect that until Tuesday.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:19 PM EST
Neither has competed since the London Olympics.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:46 AM EST
Scheduling conflicts, another new event?
Nov 25, 2014, 9:27 AM EST
Christ the Redeemer, Olympic motto honored on the coins.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:23 PM EST
Phelps is working toward 2015 goals, a North Baltimore official said.
Nov 24, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
An MRI and bone scan showed no structural damage.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EST
Canada won its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in 50 years under Quinn.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:11 AM EST
Olympic champion Shields was named the tournament’s best overall boxer.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:17 AM EST
Tikhonov led the Soviets in the Miracle on Ice game.
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