Upon seeing a screw-up from one of his players, a coach I once knew and liked would say, “The devil got inside him or something!”
Tim Howard, the devil got inside you. Or something.
It wasn’t just a goof or even a double goof from Howard, a longtime U.S. international who is usually solid as the Rocky Mountains. I mean ,the guy may give up a questionable goal here or there through imprecise footwork or positioning that is just a step or so off kilter. But this thing Thursday was something else.
First came a goal kick into a bad spot, putting his defender under antagonizing pressure. Then came the flailing kick-out that led to a penalty kick. And, worst of all, the subsequent red card left his team playing a man down for a big portion of Boxing Day. The resulting spot shot was the only goal as Everton, so tantalizingly close to the top, was unable to recover and dropped three big points at home.
So, to borrow from Christmas Story, it was the dreaded triple-dog goof.
Howard wasn’t the only American in the Premier League to have a rough day. His U.S. backup, Brad Guzan, couldn’t reach Dwight Gayle’s curler in stoppage time as Aston Villa also fell at home.
Geoff Cameron was a victim of his Stoke City teammates’ imprudent ways. The American defender was one of nine men left to deal with Newcastle, which took full advantage of the two red cards in a 5-1 romp. There is this, at least: Cameron got his chance to play at center back for Stoke – and haven’t so many U.S. fans wanted a look at this, although perhaps under different circumstances – as one of the ejections went to starting central defender Glenn Whelan
Then again, at least he was somewhere to be found; American international Brek Shea, once again, was out of the 18-man game day roster altogether.