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Howard's best not enough to save US World Cup run


By RONALD BLUM

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) -- Tim Howard kept the ball out of the net with slides, with dives and with leaps.

He couldn't do it forever.

With the United States trying to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002, he saved 12 of Belgium's shots in regulation to keep the game scoreless.

But Kevin De Bruyne scored in the 93rd minute and Romelu Lukaku in the 105th to build a two-goal lead for the Red Devils, who hung on for a 2-1 win Tuesday that eliminated the Americans in the second round for the second straight World Cup.

Howard tried to sound modest.

"I'm just trying to do all the things that have gotten me here and gotten us here," he said. "That's what I signed up to do - stick my face in front of balls. It's nothing startling."

Howard finished with 16 saves, the most in a World Cup game since FIFA started keeping track in 2002. It was his finest performance in 13 years with the national team.

"For my heart, please don't give me too many games like this," Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said. "He was in a state of grace."

Howard was the first goalkeeper to be America's No. 1 in consecutive World Cups since Tony Meola in 1990 and `94. His 104 international appearances are the U.S. record, two more than the previous mark held by Kasey Keller.

"Tim was awesome for us," U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said. "As you would expect from him."

Howard yells a lot during games. More than most goalkeepers.

And his teammates love him for that.

"He's somebody that we rely on so much for his performances on the field but also his leadership and his presence," midfielder Michael Bradley said. "There's not enough good things to say about him as a player, as a man, as a leader."

Now 35, Howard has been the starter for Everton in England's Premier League since the middle of the 2007-08 season. He is signed until 2018 and relishes the grind of the world's top league. He plans to play "as long as my body lets me" and acknowledges "that's obviously not a question that I can really answer now."

He also won't commit to another four years with the national team and the repeated flights from Britain to the U.S., Caribbean and Central America for national team games.

"Those decisions will be made, obviously, when I'm less emotional and things settle down and I have a few important conversations with important people," Howard said.

Brad Guzan - Aston Villa's top goalkeeper - is Howard's No. 2 and at 29 is positioned well for the 2018 World Cup should Howard decide to retire from the national team. Calling it an "extraordinary performance," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati didn't sound as if Howard would be leaving anytime soon.

"I'm not sure Timmy is ready to not look towards Russia," Gulati said. "He's one of the players that matters. And nobody goes into a tournament like this with our team and doesn't expect Timmy to play really well."

Howard was among the final American players to leave the locker room of the stadium on Brazil's northeast coast, suddenly and unhappily ready for a few weeks off before reporting to Everton for preseason training.

He carried a small silver-colored case, clearly not part of the gear he had when he arrived at Arena Fonte Nova. Despite the U.S. defeat, he was selected the Man of the Match and was given an award.

Was this his least player of the game honor?

That was far easier to deal with than the shots he faced.

"Yeah," he said. "That's for sure."

Join the discussion

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boyntonhorndog July 02 2014 at 12:57 PM

I am sure that Obama will have a victory parade for our losers, but not have one for our returning Vets.

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1 reply
jvor111 boyntonhorndog July 02 2014 at 1:40 PM

And did they have parades after Korea or Viet Nam? The answer is NO. Of course you don't bring that up because morons always try to distort things. And so you know MORON after WW2 my fathers last station was the Aleutian Islands and the war ended. He went to Seattle and given handwritten discharge and a train ticket to Chicago and then to Cincinnati. Got in late at night, walked 12 miles to home to a family that didn't even know he was coming back. That was on a Thursday and on Friday went to see his boss and was back at work on Monday. He lived another 62 years and never did he complain he wasn't given a parade, He did his duty. So hopefully you stfu.

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gmgpjandon July 02 2014 at 1:08 PM

Lets see the great Lars Larson, hunter, gun advocate, wanna be, do that. He should pin this on his studio wall, " It's better to keep ones mouth closed an thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." WT on the subject of soccer Lars.

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kipipi4u July 02 2014 at 1:22 PM

And Ann Coulter dares say soccer is not an exciting game.

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madcap.1 July 02 2014 at 1:24 PM

can the USA team be that crappy. they had a ton of chances to score and didn't.
my bet is that they were paid to blow the game.
only reasonable explanation

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1 reply
lkemer madcap.1 July 02 2014 at 1:58 PM

All but a few of those saves were kicked directly at him. When the goalie is on the left side of the goal area, the ball should be kicked into the goal on the right and visa- verse. If you want to make a goal, you DO NOT kick the ball directly to the goalie. I would think this would be common sense.

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Randy July 02 2014 at 1:40 PM

He should of had 18 then we wouldn't of lost ...... Soccer big deal

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vxenon67 July 02 2014 at 1:51 PM

I feel bad for Mr. Howard. The most excellent goalie; but he rest of the team did not hold up their side. 1) Too many shots to goal by Belgium. 2) Not keeping possession 3) Defense not keeping the ball away from the US side. Again too many shots to goal one of those will find its way. Again I feel bad for the US and Tim Howard.

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