Tim Howard

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What we love about Everton

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Everton.

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Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We head to the blue side of Liverpool for this post.


(Almost) All The Way Up: The Toffees are one of six teams to have not been relegated in the Premier League era, and the club feels like its brimming with potential at the beginning of so many seasons. The fits and starts of late have only served to fuel hope for a return to glory; Remember: Everton won the league twice in the 1980s and claimed a Cup Winners’ Cup, too, when they outlasted Dublin, Internacional Bratislava, Fortuna Sittard, Bayern Munich, and finally Rapid Vienna to lift the silverware in 1985 at Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam. With a young local brood — Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate — coming into its own alongside Richarlison and Lucas Digne, can the Toffees ride back into Europe?

Commitment to Community: This club puts a special stamp on being a part of its community through Everton in the Community. We especially love “The Goodison Sleepout,” where the Toffees’ U-23s join members of the communities in spending the night at stadium to raise money for young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It’s an incredible organization and an inspiration for community-based clubs around the world.

Everton
(Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

 


The Merseyside Derby: No club feels right without its top villain, and Liverpool and Everton wage at least two intense battles a year between Anfield and Goodison Park. This part of the post feels a little goofy at the moment given the Reds dominance over the derby — The Reds have 11 wins and 10 draws since Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta keyed a 2010 win at Goodison — but make no mistake about the atmosphere between these two. The potential is there for it to stand alone as the most important derby on a league calendar.

Tim Howard: Yeah, this fellas hasn’t been with the Toffees for some time, but he left Goodison with the third-most appearances in club history. Leighton Baines has since past Howard’s 413 appearances but the American goalkeeper is safely in the Toffees’ top four unless Phil Jagielka transfers back (Seamus Coleman is 103 behind). Howard was so, so good.

Everton
(Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Howard comes out of retirement to play for Memphis

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Owner. Sporting director. And now, player.

Memphis 901 FC made a shocking announcement on Wednesday that Tim Howard ended his brief retirement and signed a contract to play the upcoming USL Championship season. Howard is a minority owner with Memphis 901 and was named sporting director for the team in the offseason, as he had been involved in scouting and signing players for this season’s roster.

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At almost 41-years old, Howard will be one of the oldest professionals still playing in the U.S. However, there’s no doubt that he can add a lot to the young players for Memphis who are on the way up, and he’ll get to enjoy one more season in net against a slightly lower level of competition. In addition, he links up with head coach Tim Mulqueen, who originally discovered Howard as a pre-teen when Mulqueen was the goalkeeper coach for the Metrostars in the mid-to-late 1990s and Howard was a pre-teen.

“Since my retirement in October, my obsession for football has grown,” Howard said in a statement. “The desire to win continues to drive me. I love to play and I love to compete, this gives me the opportunity to do both.”

The U.S. Men’s National Team legend announced before the start of the 2019 season that it would be his final season as a professional, while he was a Designated Player for the struggling Colorado Rapids. However, it appears that he had the itch to play after spending some time working with the club this offseason.

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Although he hails from New Jersey, Tim Howard made Memphis his offseason base for nearly the past decade, as his family lives in the area. Now, Howard has the opportunity to play in front of his closest fans at home. Howard became a part-owner of the club in 2018 and the club made its debut in USL in 2019.

Liga MX imports can provide MLS litmus test

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Let’s conduct a fun little brain exercise on a slow Premier League winter break week.

One of my favorite American soccer focuses, one that can border on obsession, is finding proper ways to measure Major League Soccer’s incredible growth while getting a bit of context.

To be clear, it’s incredibly difficult; The league’s evolution over barely more than two decades has taken place at an almost impossible pace, to my eyes a reflection of the incredible wealth in this country and the desire to matter in a sport which is generations ahead of us in a hefty percentage of nations.

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One of the biggest challenges for MLS has been that it’s not even the best league on its continent, though the metrics all say that is coming. Look no further than the Soccerex Top 100 finance report released Thursday, where MLS is second only to Premier League in terms of teams on the list, and the new CBA which will help MLS sides to compete with Liga MX for comparably-paid depth players.

Again, a huge part of that is riches and the closed system that won’t be changing any time soon now that FIFA has said its statutes apply to pretty much everyone but the U.S.A. (Yes, really).

Measuring how Liga MX’s stars and would-be European exports fare in MLS will be a far better comparison for the status of the league right now than whether imports like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney can show up and crush it. The same is true for Mexican stars like Carlos Vela and Chicharito).

So as Rodolfo Pizarro arrives in Miami, Lucas Zelarayan mixes in with Columbus, Edison Flores moves to DC, and Alan Pulido pulls on the blue of Sporting KC, watch closely: Do they slide in and dominate? That’s great for entertainment, but probably not the status of the league.

Pulido was the third-best player in the Apertura, according to Sofascore, so we can expect a lot of magic from him once he adjusts to KC. Zelarayan was 19th and Flores 28th, so close to the same idea. Pizarro was 278th, but shoulder shrug emoji.

In the other direction, and of note, Yoshimar Yotun’s production barely dipped in his first Mexican season, and Sebastian Saucedo is showing how much his MLS tenure has evolved his game from a 2016 run at Veracruz.

All should play well, but the hope in terms of league measurement is that we don’t see gaudy numbers out of any of them. No one’s rooting against them — again, we want entertainment! — but we’re hoping that days of players whose best work came in England’s League One can’t come here and set scoring records (No disrespect to BWP, but even 2014 is ages ago on the MLS scale).

I caught a Twitter thread somewhere this evening about the lack of players moving on from MLS to make big impacts in significant European leagues. There’s Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig, Alphonso Davies at Bayern, and Miguel Almiron at Newcastle (though the traditional numbers don’t show it) as quality examples.

Matt Miazga, Zack Steffen, and Jack Harrison are interesting ones to continue monitoring, and there’s a long history that includes Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Geoff Cameron, and others.

Including Rooney and Zlatan would be the stuff of trolls, given their exceptional careers before MLS and the fact that their fine form post-MLS hasn’t been met by the gaudy and dominant offensive numbers seen in their American-based years.

So Liga MX transitions either way lend us a nice litmus test. It’s not the end-all, be-all, nor do you even have to agree with the entire thesis. But as MLS continues to chase Liga MX in competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League it does sure feel like a chance to stack some surface-level impressions into something closer to fact.

Best USMNT and USWNT moments of the 2010s

Top USMNT USWNT moments of decade
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The United States men’s national team had some dynamite moments in a dreary decade.

The USWNT had just a few dreary ones in a dynamite one.

But what were the best moments of the 2010s for the top teams of U.S. Soccer? And what’s a bigger challenge: deciding what moment is No. 3 or choosing between Nos. 1 an 2.

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Isn’t it wonderful that the USWNT  makes it so we have to choose which World Cup title is most delightful and impactful?

5. USWNT, Canada in seven-goal Olympic festival of soccer and officiating ridiculousness

Maybe it’s myopic and biased to call this the peak of the USWNT-Canada rivalry, but holy cow was this one a beauty. A guaranteed medal and a spot in the 2012 Olympic final was on the line when the U.S. fell behind not once, not twice, but three times at Old Trafford.

Christine Sinclair, arguably the greatest scorer in women’s history, had a giant-killing, nation-lifting day in attack, scoring in the 22nd, 67th, and 73rd minutes. The Yanks only equalized the third time because of a controversial handball penalty which was given after an indirect free kick was awarded for time-wasting.

An indirect free kick awarded for time-wasting. Abby Wambach was possibly given a second gold medal for intimidating the referee.

4. “And Donovan has scored. Oh can you believe this? Go, go, USA!”

The 1990s and 2000s each had their gateway moment for new fans of the U.S. men’s national team, the 90s being a whole tournament in the United States. Eight years later, it was beating rivals Mexico in the group stage.

The 2010s? Look no further than the current manager of San Diego Loyal FC.

3. Tim Howard goes Spiderman in memorable loss to Belgium

The Yanks have a decent history of putting up fine shows in World Cup knockout round exits, Ghana excluded. There was 1-0 to Brazil on home soil. Then, the 1-0 handball-aided loss to Germany in Korea.

But this was something else. The American goalkeeping position had always been a strength, but Tim Howard took it to the next level with a performance which inspired comparisons to Marvel Superheroes and Neo from the Matrix.

The U.S. lineup was good, but Belgium’s XI went like this: Courtois, Kompany, Van Buyten, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Hazard, Mertens, and Origi. The guys who came into the game? Lukaku, Mirallas, Chadli. Mousa Dembele couldn’t get on the pitch.

It was a performance big enough to earn this from Kompany after the game:

And Howard followed it up with an incredibly emotional post-match press conference. A U.S. Soccer icon.


[ MORE: USMNT Best XI of the 2010s ]


2. Megan Rapinoe caps World Cup title defense in iconic fashion

Megan Rapinoe was everywhere as the USWNT allowed just three goals in seven matches, ruffling plenty of feathers by scoring a ton of goals and celebrating them with vigor.

No recency bias here: A World Cup crown is a World Cup crown, but you’re nuts if you think this finale was as fun as our No. 1. The parade, however, looked on the level.

1. Carli Lloyd goes off in 2015 World Cup Final

Believe it or not, there was a three-tournament run where the Yanks missed two World Cup finals and lost a third.

So the relief of watching Jill Ellis lead the Yanks to a 5-2 rout against Japan was delicious

Carli Lloyd cashed in a midfield goal to cap a hat trick in the 16th minute, and… well… yeah. She had a rarefied day and year.

U.S. U-17 keeper Odunze learning from Schmeichel at Leicester City

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Leicester City’s huge secret was told to the world at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil, where imposing goalkeeper Chituru Odunze made several big saves in the United States’ quick exit from the group stage.

Odunze, who turned 17 last month, joined the Premier League outfit from the Vancouver Whitecaps last season, and is already getting some first team training time.

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This is all good news for a USMNT program which has a long history of goalkeepers shining at the top levels in Europe, including Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, and now Zach Steffen.

Odunze admits to being pleased at the tests provided by Jamie Vardy and the Leicester attackers, but says he’s learning more from the expertise on show from a trio of wise first team goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Ward, and Eldin Jakupovic.

Schmeichel is a Premier League winner, Jakupovic a former regular PL starter with Hull City, and Ward helped Huddersfield Town to promotion during a loan from Liverpool. From Oddschecker’s Kristan Heneage:

“They’re all really good role models at the club, and they sort of take you under their wing. They’ve taught me to calm down and be confident in my abilities,” Odunze said. “Of course, there are little pieces of technical information they give me while we’re training, but a lot of the lasting information I get from them is mental.”

The 17-year-old has a monstrous frame, so learning from Schmeichel and company at such a young age while getting tested by the Foxes’ electric attackers is a great combination. He is 2W-2L at the U18 Premier League level.