U.S. Goalkeeper Tim Howard Was the Man of This or Any Match

Slate's soccer blog.
July 1 2014 7:01 PM

U.S. Goalkeeper Tim Howard Was the Man of This or Any Match

Tim Howard
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made so many great saves against Belgium that it's difficult to single out the best one. But this one against the Red Devils' Kevin Mirallas is representative of everything that Howard did to keep his team in a game where they were thoroughly outplayed everywhere except in the net.

In extra time, Belgium finally broke through with two goals, with substitute Romelu Lukaku making the difference for the Red Devils, setting up Belgium's first goal and scoring the second. A late goal from 19-year-old Julian Green gave the Americans life, but the U.S. could not get the equalizer they needed.

When asked after the game what it felt like to be under constant siege, Howard told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap, "That's my job. That's what I do." A man of few words and many saves, Howard finished the match with 16 stops, the most in a World Cup game in half a century. Someone encase that man in bronze.

Advertisement

After the game, ESPN's American studio analysts Alexi Lalas and Kasey Keller commended the Americans' pride, bravery, and courage. German Michael Ballack was more dispassionate, noting that the Americans need to improve their technical ability if they want to advance further in the World Cup. Speaking from Los Angeles, Landon Donovan said it best: Once the U.S. gets players like Messi and Lukaku, then the Americans' competitiveness could push them over the top to World Cup glory. But the U.S. doesn't have a Lukaku, much less the greatest player in the world. And so for now, pride and courage are good enough to get to the knockout round and no further.

The Belgians' superior skill was evident throughout the game, particularly in the midfield. It's fitting, though, that the Americans' lone world-class player, Howard, came very, very close to stealing this win. And teenager Julian Green's late goal, as well as 20-year-old defender DeAndre Yedlin's incredibly strong play off the bench, gives the U.S. hope for the future. These are the kinds of players that the Americans need to continue to develop and/or find in Germany if they want to make it to the quarterfinals or beyond in 2018.

Four years from now, Tim Howard will be 39 years old. In the 2014 World Cup, Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon played as a substitue at age 43. In my mind, then, Howard has at least two more World Cups to go. See you in Russia, Timmy.

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.