EXCLUSIVE: U.S. ‘keeper Tim Howard agrees governing bodies can help with head injuries

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GLASGOW — Tim Howard has had plenty of whacks, bumps and bruises over the years and the U.S. national team veteran has brushed most of them off.

However he accepts, like many, that head injuries aren’t just something you should shake off and carry on playing with. And as we’ve all seen from multiple incidents in the Premier League lately, how to deal with concussions is becoming an issue.

On Sunday November 3 at Goodison Park, USMNT ‘keeper Howard stood and watched on in horror from the other end of the pitch as Tottenham Hotspur’s French international stopper Hugo Lloris was knocked unconscious after a nasty collision with Romelu Lukaku.

Remarkably Lloris played on after lengthy treatment from Spurs’ medical team. There was uproar from the press, doctors, governing bodies, the PFA and just about everyone else in between, as the way Premier League clubs treat concussions and head injuries was called into question.

(MORE: PFA demands players “should not continue after loss of consciousness” as Lloris incident hits home)

Teams, leagues and, most importantly, the players, need help.

I asked Howard if soccer’s lawmakers could perhaps set up better guidelines on how to deal with a concussion or head injuries, to help restrict the amount of long-term damage they could cause. Leaning forward and donning a concerned look on his face, Howard agreed that perhaps new guidelines would help.

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Tottenham’s French ‘keeper Hugo Lloris was allowed to play on despite being knocked unconscious against Howard’s Everton side. Spurs’ goalkeeper hasn’t played since.

“I think if you look at how American sports have dealt with concussions and all the disastrous information that have come out in studies about post concussion, yeah, there needs to be a precedent set through the governing bodies,” Howard agreed. “A simple, ‘hey are you all good?’ and a thumbs up… it’s not enough. It’s important that the governing bodies, as they have in American sport, make the laws so stringent because we know the repercussions of letting players play on, whether they’ve been knocked out or have concussions. We realize how bad concussions are.”

(MORE: New head injuries in the Premier League add to swirling cyclone of criticism – video)

Howard, who was talking to me after coming in from a windswept Murray Park in Glasgow as he prepared for the USA’s upcoming friendlies with Scotland and Austria, was adamant that if he’d have been the one knocked unconscious in Everton’s 0-0 draw with Spurs, instead of Lloris, he would’ve expected the Toffees medical staff to take him out of the game immediately.

So, did he agree with how Spurs’ medical team acted?

“That’s their decision,” Howard said. “I would hope that if I was knocked out in the game that my medical staff wouldn’t have given me the option, that they would’ve taken me off.”

(MORE: Andre Villas-Boas stands by Tottenham’s decision to let Hugo Lloris play on)

As Howard and I discussed the topic we both agreed that the medical staff at Tottenham, and those at any other PL club, shouldn’t be making decisions on players concussion symptoms in such a fast-paced environment where split-second diagnosis’ are often rushed unintentionally.

“I think it’s important, as you mentioned, that UEFA, FIFA, governing bodies, whomever, that the guidelines become more stringent,” Howard said. “It takes the guess work out of it and it takes decisions out of people’s hands.”

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.