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U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard works with aspiring keepers in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Just four days removed from playing for the U.S. national team's 1-0 Copa America consolation loss to Colombia, and just a day after being introduced as the Colorado Rapids' new goalkeeper, there was Tim Howard on a muggy Wednesday afternoon at Eckerd College. Howard, who has more wins (55) and appearances (109) than any keeper in U.S. national team history, was in town to appear at his Tim Howard School of Goalkeeping. The one-week camp in its fifth year, but its first at Eckerd College.

"No rest for the weary," Howard said.

Howard, 37, arrived in Tampa Bay at 5 a.m. Wednesday and spent the day with the 106 campers in town for the week. According to tournament director Gary MacMath, the camp saw keepers from Honduras, Finland, Nova Scotia and 25 states, including Hawaii.

Howard, who recently ended a 10-year run as the starter for the English Premier League's Everton, spent the day instructing and participating in various drills.

"It's unbelievable to be around the best goalkeeper that's ever played for our country," said camper Trevor Mulqueen, 16, who lives in Lakewood Ranch and plays keeper for the under-18 Chargers. "He's somebody you try to model your game after. You learn from everything he does, his positioning, his work ethic. Everything."

Howard began helping at the camp when it started five years ago in Lakewood Ranch. He lent his name to it soon after. As the camp grew, organizers began looking for a larger complex. They found Eckerd College.

"We just thought there was a market for a good goalkeeping academy and that was something we wanted to try and do," Howard said. "We wanted to revamp it and grow, and Eckerd has opened their doors for us. They've bent over backward to help us."

Howard is familiar with St. Petersburg. His parents own a home here and he bought a house on Snell Isle a year ago. He has had very little time to enjoy it, however.

Soon after the EPL season, Howard joined the national team. After Wednesday's camp, he caught another red-eye flight back to Denver. He will begin his tenure, and his return to Major League Soccer, with the Rapids tonight when they host Portland. In all, Howard will play for 18 months straight before getting a break.

When he is done playing professionally, Howard plans to settle in St. Petersburg. But he's not done just yet. His pro career started in 1998 with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars of MLS. In 2003 he went to Manchester United of the EPL then was loaned to Everton in 2006. He stayed with Everton until this past season and made 414 appearances with the club, 13th most in its 138-year history.

He has been a national team member since 2002 and rose to national prominence during the 2014 World Cup. He helped the United States advance to the knockout stage. Against Belgium, a 2-1 loss, he made a World Cup-record 16 saves.

This year, Howard has played behind Brad Guzan on the U.S. team. Though he is now the backup, Howard plans to be at the 2018 World Cup.

"I hope so," he said. "I've got to do a few things to get to that level. But I sure hope there is a World Cup in my future. That's the plan."

Contact Rodney Page at rpage@tampabay.com. Follow @RodneyHomeTeam.

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard works with aspiring keepers in St. Petersburg 07/03/16 [Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2016 10:17pm]
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