The longtime Everton and U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper, along with the rest of his Victoria Road Football LLC partners — Peter B. Freund and Craig Unger — recently purchased the majority of shares in the fifth-division English club.
The group announced this summer that Memphis 901 FC — where Howard now lives during the offseason — will debut in USL in 2019. Freund also own the Memphis Redbirds, the AAA (baseball) affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“When I first visited Victoria Road this summer for a friendly against Cambridge, and having come back for the match against Hartlepool, I was captivated by the incredible passion shown by the Daggers supporters.
“I consider my ability to come in and help this club, which has roots dating back to the 1880’s, as a privilege and will do everything I can to solidify it this season and give us a chance to return to the Football League in the future.”
Freund was reportedly interested in purchasing a stake in Championship side Aston Villa in the summer, before an Egyptian company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris swooped in ahead of Freund.
His teammates may have done much of the heavy lifting, but Wayne Rooney was on hand to grab the finish and pick up the first goal of his Major League Soccer career to put D.C. United up 1-0 on the Colorado Rapids.
With the game just past the half-hour mark, Junior Moreno began things with a pinpoint tackle in midfield to snatch a wayward pass, and 24-year-old Luciano Acosta delivered a fabulously weighted ball that slipped Rooney in past a pair of defenders whom he had split. The former Manchester United veteran then capped it off by sending the ball through the legs of Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Of course, he celebrated with his trademark jumping fist pump.
Of course, the goal fittingly came against his former Manchester United teammate Tim Howard. The two were at Old Trafford together from 2004-2006, although they never crossed paths at Everton.
D.C. United is still sitting in a distant last place in the Eastern Conference, with Toronto F.C. still eight points ahead coming into the match, but Rooney performing well gives the fans something to enjoy for the rest of the season, plus promising potential for next year as well.
Not only did Rooney grab his first goal, but he did so while wearing the captain’s armband, high praise for a player who just arrived at a club not even a month prior. D.C. United did not have a captain named for the season until this match, with Steve Birnbaum listed as captain on teamsheets but nobody wearing the armband.
On the four-year anniversary of Tim Howard‘s masterclass against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, the USMNT veteran once again stood on his head, but this time around he got the win as well.
Howard made 10 saves as the Colorado Rapids profited from a Marcel de Jong own-goal just before halftime to pick up a 1-0 win. The United States international was fantastic as he baffled the Whitecaps attackers in front of net. He no doubt benefitted from poor finishing as numerous point-blank chances were ripped directly at the netminder, but Howard also produced a few acrobatic efforts as well, including one that kept out a fabulous long-range effort by Jordan Mutch in the 83rd minute.
Altogether, Vancouver put 25 shots on net, but struggled to put them in dangerous positions. Kei Kamara had an especially dismal day in front of net, putting eight shots on goal but saw four of those saved and another off the crossbar.
Four years ago today, Howard produced 15 saves against Belgium, the most in a World Cup match in history since saves became an official stat in 1966. He faced 39 shots on that day and kept all but two of them out as the United States lost a heartbreaker in extra-time on goals by Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.l
The victory this evening pushed Colorado up to 15 points on the season out of 16 matches, still eight points off the 23 points to grab a current playoff spot where Vancouver hangs on in 6th.
Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.
The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.
The 19-year-old “Don’t call him Wonderboy” admitted to fighting depression after the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup, but Christian Pulisic is the primary cause for optimism in many circles of U.S. Soccer.
USMNT supporters see him as the key to the future, club coaches see him as an example of how an elite career can be nurtured here, and European export proponents see his exponential growth at Borussia Dortmund as a beacon to call young U.S. talent overseas.
Short of world elite, but best American player in history
About where he is now: Key player on a good team
It won’t surprise anyone that Option No. 3 was the least popular, as it’s difficult to believe a healthy Pulisic won’t continue to improve. He’s already one of the most important players on a UEFA Champions League team — and the most important player on the USMNT — at age 19, so the nine percent of people who voted “About where he is now” are mostly cynics or detesters of the game here, in all likelihood.
Thirty-seven percent of fans think he can be a Best XI candidate, which would put him in uncharted American waters. Getting to this point would mean Pulisic would get to a point where voters consider him capable of fitting in a team like the 2016 UEFA Team of the Season. The attack-minded players there only need one of their names: Messi, Griezmann, Ronaldo, Modric, Iniesta.
Now, this also would mean that Pulisic would need to either lead Borussia Dortmund to a Bundesliga crown and/or deep into the UEFA Champions League, and that leaves this poll option a massive bet by voters. He could also be an otherworldly playmaker on a second-tier team, but would need to just dominate. In the last three seasons, guess who many teams have placed a player on the Best XI?
Seven. That’s 33 spots taken by seven teams. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, and Manchester United. PSG has one (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) while United had a half (Angel Di Maria played for the Red Devils and Real that season).
Which brings us to the majority vote: 54 percent of voters think Pulisic will not quite reach world elite, but will be the best player in United States history. This would mean passing the accolades of Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan. From a team standpoint, this won’t be terribly hard.
Pulisic has won the German Cup. Howard has a League Cup, FA Cup, and Community Shield. Dempsey played in a Europa League final with Fulham, while Donovan won all of his club accolades in Major League Soccer.
What would it take for Pulisic to take a step into that category while staying in Europe (Forgive us for assuming a healthy Pulisic could return to MLS at any time in the next dozen years and contribute like Dempsey at the very least)? Would he need to join the rarefied air of aforementioned clubs like Real or Bayern Munich? Lothar Matthaus thinks he can do a job at the latter.
At a certain point, naysayers like to say Pulisic is being overhyped. We get that. As a culture we’ve gone through varying degrees of that, from Maurice Edu all the way up (or down) to Freddy Adu. But no player in U.S. history, at his age, has been nominated for the Goldenboy Award. Donovan didn’t make a senior appearance at Bayer Leverkusen until 22, and Pulisic has 71 first team apps for BVB with 10 goals and 14 assists.
This is the great unknown, paved by the work of Dempsey and Howard, Bocanegra and Reyna, Keller and even McBride. While we should sit back and enjoy it all, there’s no doubt the focus will only continue to grow on Pulisic. It seems, wonderfully, that pressure doesn’t bother the kid.