There is no limit for the love, endless and unbending, that binds U.S. soccer stars and Everton FC once the Yanks get their name on a locker stall at venerable Goodison Park. Or so it seems.
Today comes the news that Tim Howard has re-upped for two more seasons along Goodison Road in Liverpool. The story and video from the official club website is here. Now, while this qualifies as “news,” it’s about as surprising as a TV announcer saying two clubs are “feeling each other out.” (Top of my list of lazy clichés.) The new deal secures Howard’s future at Everton through 2016.
Howard loves Everton. The Toffees love him back. What’s not to adore? He’s performing spectacularly, as usual, solidly stationed among the Premiership’s best. Plus, he’s become a real goal-scoring son of gun, as we know. So it’s really a win-win for all involved.
The Evertonians love them some Landon Donovan, too. And he loves them back. Just check out this syrupy sweet tribute, complete with hero-to-the-rescue soundtrack gracing the background.
Says the voice on the video: “When David Moyes sent a distress signal to the U.S.A., there was only one man he wanted to answer it. A man he could trust. A man the people could trust! As American hero Landon Donovan swooped in for the club … Just as it appeared the club would suffer a long, hard winter, the attacking midfielder’s arrival lifted spirits at Goodison!”
Man, after I watched this, I wasn’t sure if Donovan had set up a few goals around the grounds or drove all the damn snakes away from Merseyside!
I happened to be at the last game Donovan played at Everton, on his first go-round. And sure enough, the amount of mutual affection was truly inspiring. The chanting for Donovan (“U.S.A! U.S.A!… ) was absolutely electric. And he was just warming up, prepping to come on as a sub!
I’ve asked around about all this lovey-dovey. Best theory: it’s the family atmosphere of a smaller club that makes Goodison such a special place for the men in blue. Moyes is a real players’ coach, too, which always helps.
Speaking of family: At my visit, I was struck by how family friendly the whole thing was, far more so than most EPL grounds. So, I suppose the “family” thing stretches through everything in and around organization.