Notice the end year on this one, U.S. fans: 2018. That’s how long Tim Howard’s set to be at Everton, with the club’s late Wednesday announcement confirming a contract extension that will take the United States’ number one through the Russia World Cup.
It’s the soccer world, so there’s no guarantee the 35-year-old will actually be between the Toffees’ posts when he turns 39, but the extension is a sign of faith. Enjoying one of his best seasons in English soccer, the former MetroStars and Manchester United keeper has shown few signs of age, with any decrease in his remarkable athleticism augmented by the experience of 12 years in the Premier League. Set to start for the U.S. this summer in Brazil, Howard continues to be relevant beyond Goodison Park, cementing his name in a long line of standout U.S. goalies.
Everton manager Roberto Martínez, from the club’s website:
“It is fantastic news,” Martinez told evertontv. “To have Tim Howard performing as he has been this season, I cannot see past him to choose the best goalkeeper in the league.
“For him, in such an important year with the World Cup around the corner, to commit his future for the long term is an incredible moment for the dressing room.”
“I am extremely proud of Tim’s achievements for the football Club,” continued Martinez.
“On top of his goalkeeping it’s his overall demeanour and personality in the dressing room. He is a strong leader.”
Howard’s also a big reason why Everton’s only conceded 34 times this season, the second lowest rate in the Premier League. Though the Toffees’ more possession-conscious approach has helped limit Howard’s exposure, the New Jersey native has still been among the league’s standouts at the position.
Given that level of performance and the knowledge Howard plans to be around in 2018, does this mean another World Cup run? On one level, it feels like the kind of obligatory, speculative question that always gets tossed into posts like this. On another, it’s legitimately worth asking, with the aging curve for goalkeepers typically far more gentle than for field players.
Will 39-year-old Tim Howard be that different from the 35-year-old? Because if he’s not, then Howard should be a contender (if not an outright favorite) for number one spot in Russia.
(And … cue the Howard vs. Guzan debate …)