Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

U.S. World Cup team depends on goalkeeper Tim Howard

RECIFE, Brazil — Tim Howard rarely makes it through a game without accepting multiple celebratory embraces from relieved American teammates.

It happens almost every time the U.S. goalkeeper launches his 6-foot-3 frame to make a spectacular save — diving, leaping or even punching the ball away.

There were several such moments Sunday in a 2-2 tie World Cup group game against Portugal, and the Americans are counting on more of the same when they face three-time champion Germany today.

Howard, 35, will reach a milestone in the process. His 103rd international appearance passes Kasey Keller for the most by an American keeper.

Not that it's on Howard's mind with the Americans trying to reach the knockout stage of consecutive World Cups for the first time. The Americans were in position to advance Sunday before they surrendered a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time. When Varela's header sailed into the net off a cross from two-time world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, Howard put his hands on his head and sighed.

"Football's cruel sometimes. It ebbs and flows," said Howard, who has seven saves in two games. "We try and take every result as it comes. Our training sessions have been light and lively. We've got a great chance in the 'Group of Death,' they say, to go through and advance, so we're excited. I think we had one foot in the door, so there's a small bit of disappointment."

One of the best keepers in the world and a star with Everton of England's Premier League, Howard had 15 shutouts — one behind Chelsea's Petr Cech and Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny — in 37 league matches this season.

And a back four of U.S. defenders that was scrutinized ahead of this World Cup for its inexperience is quick to hug the big man.

"One of Tim Howard's biggest qualities is his communication," central defender Matt Besler said. "He gets the best out of everybody. Everything starts with him; the organization; the confidence. He's talking to us almost too much it feels like, but it's great. I tell him I never want him to stop talking. Even if I know what to do, he's still telling me what to do."

Portugal peppered him with shot after shot from every angle.

Despite the near miss and late disappointment, coach Jurgen Klinsmann has all the confidence the Americans will be ready to go again today against his home country. He helped West Germany win the 1990 World Cup then coached Germany to a semifinal run on home soil in 2006.

"That's what a World Cup is all about. You live through those emotions positively and negatively," Klinsmann said. "You've just got to kind of cross it off then move on. And we're going to move on quickly."

There is some thought this could be Howard's World Cup. He signed a two-year contract extension with Everton in April that takes him through 2018 and a likely finish to his career with the club. Backup Brad Guzan is the U.S. No. 1 keeper in waiting.

Before Howard contemplates his future with the U.S. team, he hopes to extend this run.

"We've given ourselves every chance to advance, so we're optimistic," Howard said. "We're pretty much right where we wanted to be when we started this whole process. We wanted to be going into the last game feeling like we have a chance. And we do."

Comments

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: ToyotaCare 250 qualifying4 p.m.FS1Monster Energy Cup: Toyota Owners 400 qualifying5:30 p.m.FS1Xfinity: ToyotaCare 2507 p.m.FS1BaseballRoyals at Tigers1 p.m.MLBTwins at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMIndians at Orioles7 p.m.MLBMarlins at ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 3 hours ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

TAMPA — The second period was not even four minutes old Wednesday night when Devils right wing Patrick Maroon skated all alone toward Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was a moment that could turn a game and even a series.A goal and the score would be tie...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Former UCF and Lakewood High standout Shaquem Griffin understandably has been focused on the NFL draft next week in Arlington, Tex., where he is projected as a potential second-day pick.But the Lightning's playoff run  hasn't escaped his attenti...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

For the first time since its season commenced, the USF baseball team enters a weekend as the Bulls' feature sports attraction.Basketball ended last month, and spring football ended last Saturday, meaning would-be baseball fans no longer have reason t...
Published: 04/19/18
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Published: 04/19/18