Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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."

.Fast facts

U.S. scenarios

Note: The other Group G game, Portugal-Ghana, runs simultaneously:

If Americans win

Win Group G and face Group H runnerup in the round of 16

If Americans tie

Germany and United States have five points. Germany wins the group on goal differential, and United States faces Group H winner

If Americans lose

Advance if Portugal and Ghana tie. If one team wins, it and the U.S. team have four points. The tiebreakers:

1. Goal differential

2. Goals scored

3. Head-to-head (Americans beat Ghana, tied Portugal)

4. Drawing lots

Today's other games

Portugal vs. Ghana, noon, ESPN2

South Korea vs. Belgium, 4, ESPN

Algeria vs. Russia, 4, ESPN2

U.S. World Cup team depends on goalkeeper Tim Howard 06/25/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Black Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)