Everyone who knows of the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year award could’ve guessed who was going to win it this year, when Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard came off an extension-worthy year at the club level, followed by a record-breaking performance at the 2014 World Cup.
U.S. Soccer named six nominees for the award–Howard, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson and Kyle Beckerman.
Howard gained 64 percent of the vote, and his nearest contestant was Jones, who scored only 19 percent.
The former Manchester United netminder also secured the award in 2008, and this victory made him the fifth player in USMNT history to win it twice. Jozy Altidore trumped last year, while Dempsey relished back-to-back success seizing the award in 2011 and 2012. Landon Donovan still has the record, though, named four times.
“It’s an honor,” Howard said on ESPN. “It’s pretty special to have my name up there with the greats.”
Howard saved 15 shots against Belgium in the Round of 16, although the U.S. fell to the Red Devils, 2-1, in extra time to end American hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals. Bombarded throughout the match when his back line couldn’t handle the attacking prowess of the Belgians, the New Jersey-native constantly served as his country’s saving force.
Overseas, Everton finished the 2013-14 Premier League season in fifth place, qualifying for a Europa League spot. Roberto Martinez’s team boasted a goals-against average of 39, third-best in the PL, while Howard’s great displays (15 clean sheets) were vital to the Toffees’ ascent.
We are still unsure whether Howard will return for the 2018 World Cup, but one could guess, without injury or physical decline, he would give the biggest international soccer stage one more shot.