Tim Howard out with back fractures
Howard was hurt Feb. 26 in Everton's FA Cup win over Oldham and missed last weekend's Premier League game against Reading, ending his streak of consecutive league matches at 210, two shy of the Everton record set by goalkeeper Neville Southall from 1987-93.
Everton manager David Moyes confirmed Howard's injury. “He has two fractures, but they are not bones that are supporting anything,” the Everton manager said. “It is off the spine. They are not weight-bearing.”
Moyes added: "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.
"We don't think he will be out for the season. I read that (Newcastle's 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."
Aston Villa's Brad Guzan is likely to take over in goal in what would be his first qualifiers in four years. Guzan won Villa's starting job from Shay Given early this season. He has 20 international appearances and a 3-1-1 record in qualifiers, with two wins over Barbados in 2008 and one over Guatemala, a loss at Trinidad and Tobago that year, and a draw the following year at El Salvador. He also played in the 3-0 win over Egypt at the 2009 Confederations Cup.
The Americans lost 2-1 at Honduras last month in their opener of the final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean, with new central defenders Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez struggling in front of Howard. They host Costa Rica on March 22 at Commerce City, Colo., then play four days later at Mexico City.
The top three nations in the finals, which also include Jamaica and Panama, advance to the 32-team field at next year's tournament. The No. 4 team goes to a playoff for another berth, likely against New Zealand.
The US also will be missing midfielder Landon Donovan, not scheduled to return to training with the Los Angeles Galaxy until late March. In addition, Tottenham midfielder Clint Dempsey has not played since Feb. 21 because of a calf injury. Hannover right back Steve Cherundolo has an injured shoulder and could miss a month.