Pick your least favorite USMNT match of the last half-decade, and chances are Tim Howard either didn’t feature or can’t be blamed.
CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico? On the bench. Gold Cup 2015? He wasn’t in the squad. Meaningful 4-0 losses to Argentina and Costa Rica? No again.
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So there’s something about having Howard between the sticks for two massive World Cup qualifiers — let alone the returns of Geoff Cameron and Copa America hero Clint Dempsey — that have us breathing easier.
Take it, Tim:
“The collective inspiration of the group is needed,” he said to USSoccer.com. “We’re in a tough situation, but it’s not doom and gloom. Every time we’ve needed to win a game or muster up a good performance, we’ve done that. We’ve answered the bell. It’s not worrying at this point. There’s an opportunity there for us to get three points on Friday and then go down to Panama and collect another.”
In our rush to anoint the next round of U.S. heroes — and there are several: Christian Pulisic, John Brooks — perhaps we’ve eschewed some with a lot left in the tank. If the Yanks make another World Cup, it’ll be with Howard and Dempsey. In fact, we imagine there will be space for both on the plane to Russia, and Howard may be in the XI. And there’s nothing wrong with that.