SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Tim Howard

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Photo by Greg Bartram/ISIPhotos.com

By PABLO MAURER

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The U.S. entered Tuesday evening’s match with Mexico in need of a mind eraser. Just days removed from a 3-1 loss at Costa Rica that was perhaps their worst 90 minutes of the hexagonal, the U.S. would need to wipe the slate clean and put their best foot forward.

Tim Howard – perhaps more than anybody else on the pitch – would need to forget about Friday night’s debacle. Many in the media had criticized the U.S. goalkeeper for being a bit hesitant to leave his line on Costa Rica’s first two goals. At the U.S.’ training session on Monday, some had even wondered aloud if Klinsmann would consider playing Brad Guzan if Howard’s struggles continued.

Howard answered his doubters in style Tuesday evening, saving all 4 shots Mexico put on frame – often in spectacular fashion – en route to a clean sheet. The performance kept the U.S. from falling behind early, and helped him earn SBI Man of the Match honors.

Howard’s strong effort came just four days after a poor performance against Costa Rica that had some questioning whether he should still be the U.S. starter. Howard addressed his outing against Costa Rica, admitting that it wasn’t good, but also stating emphatically that bad games come with the job of being a high-level goalkeeper.

“I’ve played five hundred games,” Howard told SBI. “I’ve had a lot of crappy games. The reason I’m still playing is because they’re very few and far between. Did I have a bad game [against Costa Rica]? Yeah, I had a bad game. I’m gonna have a few more bad games this season, unfortunately. It sucks, because it makes for a long Saturday night, but that’s goalkeeping.”

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was similarly non-plussed by the criticism of his goalie. “We have no doubts about any player,” he told the assembled media after the match. “Players make mistakes. All of us make mistakes. We analyze things, talk to the players about it and want to correct whatever mistakes we made. We talked about it, showed them the video clips. And we wanted to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.”

For many of his teammates, Howard’s adept, workmanlike performance came as no surprise. They’ve been seeing it for years.

“He’s just solid.” said a smiling, beer-soaked Landon Donovan. “He makes the plays we need him to make. They had a couple of times tonight when they broke through and got some good shots. The crazy thing about him is that those are big saves for most goalies – but for him, we almost expect that out of him, because he does it so often. You just feel so confident, like they’re never going to score.”

“Tim was just so great tonight with us,” added Omar Gonzalez. “He was so vocal in the back, keeping us organized. There’s a lot to say about him but he’s been a great goalkeeper for the past how-ever-many years, and tonight he just showed it.”

In a game where Donovan had a goal and an assist, where Jermaine Jones put in a solid, calm, composed performance in midfield, where Eddie Johnson hammered home the winning goal, Tim Howard gets man of the match honors. Why? Put bluntly, the U.S. simply does not win this game if not for his two massive first-half saves. Howard went full extension to parry away a Christian Gimenez blast mid-way through the first stanza, then went to his left to deny Giovani Dos Santos just moments from the halftime whistle.

A typically humble Howard was quick to heap praise on his teammates and coaches after the half, and quick to point out that this wasn’t the first time that his side entered a match in need of a rebound.

“We’ve answered the bell a bunch of times,” Howard was quick to point out. “Guatemala in Kansas City, the snow game when there was all this internal strife and we ‘hated’ each other, playing like crap in Costa Rica [and bouncing back tonight] – we’ve answered the bell. We have a lot of resiliency, and that’s good to see.”

Howard and company will now get to answer the biggest bell of all, the one that will see them march out of their corner and into the World’s largest stage, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

————-

Who did you think was deserving of Man of the Match honors on Tuesday night? Cast your vote below:

 

  • Tim Howard
  • Landon Donovan
  • Eddie Johnson
  • Jermaine Jones
  • Kyle Beckerman
  • Omar Gonzalez

———-

Who did you vote for? What did you think of Tim Howard’s performance tonight? Do you think he deserved man of the match honors?

Share your thoughts in below.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team, U.S. Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Tim Howard

  1. Big Red says:

    The difference between this game and the last game: Bedoya and Johnson. And there’s no place to vote for Bedoya!?!?!?!?!

  2. Chad says:

    Garbage huh? Funny how he has twice the # of goals of anyone else:
    link to fifa.com

  3. Jake says:

    Dempsey was good (but not at PKs). He fell down a lot and looked for calls. They weren’t coming tonight. He was dangerous again tonight. Not his best game, but far from garbage.
    I thought Tim Howard should win for best redemption, but not necessarily MOTM. I thought a lot of guys had solid games but none were fantastic and NONE were bad. The team (and the fans) were the MOTM.

  4. Nate Dollars says:

    pains me to say it (since i’ve never been his biggest fan), but i voted for beckerman. he was pretty much perfect holding down the d-mid spot, allowing jones to roam and play his game and gonzo and goodson to stay back and dominate in the air, moving the ball well, and closing down the space in the middle (for the most part). could’ve voted for jones or howard, but i thought beckerman was the most impressive.

    • Dirk McQuigley says:

      I have to say that in the past, I have been a huge naysayer about Beckerman, but since the Gold Cup he has changed my mind. Last night was no different. When you give him a very specific and defined role like destroyer, I think he is a serviceable player and has deservedly locked up a roster spot for Brazil.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Nate: Well, at least two of us got it right. Beckerman was MOTM because he was The Difference between the Costa Rica tragedy and the Mexico triumph. The team had a middle again, which protected Tim Howard from having to make 10 more saves, and the team had an offense again—which protected Tim from another 10 shots.

      I’ve said it before: cut his hair and put a different name on his jersey and everyone here would be raving about this new, solid, reliable option at CM.

  5. Madkins says:

    Dempsey is too cocky. Because of this, his work rate up front (and Eddie Johnson’s for that matter) was sub-par. You can argue all you want about Johnson’s goal (and chances he made), but the U.S. strikers were lazy at best. Jermaine Jones is a liability – Bradley and Diskerud are the best combination the U.S. have, and should be utilized more often. I’d also like to see Johanssen come in for Dempsey a little earlier and see what the kid is made of…

    • keithbabs79 says:

      The past couple games, I wished JJ would go back to Germany. But if he plays like he did yesterday, than I feel he’s a good compliment to Bradley. He IS the destroyer JK gushes about. And Mix will be there to add offense as a backup, or (eventual) yellow card replacement. But the key is JJ’s work ethic. The second he gets comfortable again, he’s useless.

    • RK says:

      Thank you. EJ was missing before his first corner kick shot.

  6. biff says:

    My vote goes to Jermaine Jones, who was a defensive beast, constantly disrupting Mexico’s offense and making key plays to stop potential goals, like the great play in the box that rescued Besler and Goodson who had been beat. All through the game you could see the respect the Mexican players had for Jones. And Jones was solid in linking our defense and attack, also with a couple of very good passes into the final third. I hope he can now go back to Schalke and find his club form, which has been weak compared to his outstanding form last season.

    • Sheriffbart says:

      Thats 2 for Jones. He played box to box physically yet with intelligence and control. I was worried not having bradly but he and Beckerman did quite well in the mid field. I thought this was some what an ugly game at times. Both teams turned the ball over regularly yet some of that can be blamed on the instant pressure both teams put on the ball. I’m so excited for the team and J.K. It will be tought to pick the final roster for Brazil and that is a GREAT thing.

      • Dirk McQuigley says:

        Other than the first 15 minutes where he had two bad giveaways, JJ played like a Champions League midfielder. He had some excellent passes, came close on one shot and played a hell of defensive game. Mexico had no answer for his size and power and they played into his strength. Having said that, it is how INCONSISTENT JJ has been for the MNT that drives me crazy. He usually plays bad game, good game, bad game, and so on. If he could consistently play like he did last night, we would not have to read threads about how panicked the team is because Bradley is hurt.

    • Del Griffin says:

      Jones? You’ve got to be kidding. He nearly gave Mexico two goals int he first half with his awful decision making on the ball, and did not distribute the ball at all to the forwards. The offense only got moving when they started routing it up the flanks rather than through him and Beckerman. When Mix came on, it became doubly evident that Jones is horrible.

      I can’t remember a bad player that has so many apologists. Total eurosnobbery to give this guy constant cover for his horrible play

      • wandmdave says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think JJ is a comparable player to Bradley or Mix. Isn’t he more of a #6 destroyer for Schalke? If so expecting him to play like Bradley or Mix is a big ask.

    • bottlcaps says:

      Agree, especially since he works well with Beckerman as well as Bradley.Jones gets a lot of criticism, but when the game is important, whether its a Champions League, BundesLiga or USMNT, he seems to come through big time. He will need to bring his A game back to Germany though, The acquisition of Boateng by Schalke may decrease his minutes. Jones is one of those players who thrives with a lot of minutes, and his sharpness for the USMNT next summer may be a reflection on his club play.

      • biff says:

        Boateng was being initially played as a CAM for Schalke, so would not interfere with Jones if he stays there. Don‘t know whether that will continue or not. But Schalke again playing Champions League and in a group with only Chelsea better on paper. Will no doubt be a lot of rotation and Jones getting playing time. My theory is that his poor club form this season is at least partly attributable to Schalke not yet offering him a contract extension, although his contract ends next summer. I look forward to seeing Jones playing against Chelsea. Wish we had more players involved in the Champions League.

      • Hunt Daddy says:

        Well said. His inconsistency can be maddening, but the fact is he’s a big game player.

        I think KPB will play further forward than Jones, though. Hopefully the added competition will bring the best out in him.

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          “His inconsistency can be maddening, but the fact is he’s a big game player.”

          The inconsistency of that statement is maddening. You start by pointing to his inconsistency (e.g., in the Costa Rica match compared to the Mexico match—both of which were “big” games), then state that it’s simply a fact that he *is* a big game player. You could say that he is *often* a big game player, but not *is*.

          (Sorry if I’m reading too much—or not enough—into your comment.)

          • Hunt Daddy says:

            My fault for not elaborating. When I say “big game player” I mean he raises his play against better opponents/on bigger occasions. Conversely, he is guilty of lowering his level of play against weaker opponents, hence the inconsistency issues.

            The CR match was an important WCQ, but I think we can agree that Mexico at home is a bigger occasion, especially with the opportunity to clinch a WC berth.

            He doesn’t always play great from week to week with Schalke either, but he tends to bring it in UCL matches. Another example, he was mostly outstanding vs. Germany earlier this year, a big occasion for someone who was born, raised and capped by Germany.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              Thanks for clarifying. Make sense. I think his inconsistency is more unpredictable than “strong vs strong; weak vs weak,” but we’re probably still essentially in agreement.

          • Hunt Daddy says:

            The context was in bottlcaps post above that I was responding to

  7. Frank says:

    I still can’t believe he snagged that Dos Santos shot out of the air. What a play!

  8. PD says:

    I think that this article hit the nail on the head. We spend (waste?) a lot of time on these threads basing the trajectory of a players career on their most recent 90 minutes. It’s fun to talk trash, but I value this site because I feel like I learn more about the game when I come here… Except when comments like “player x is garbage, he’s done. bring in player y” (never mind the fact that player y is a relative unknown element).

    There are so many other story lines to dig more deeply into.

  9. BFBS says:

    Wasn’t Goodson pretty good too – not MOTM good, mind you, but making crucial defensive plays and runs on set pieces a couple of times?

  10. Dennis says:

    I thought Goodson and Gonzales had great games.

    Jones seems to be the only guy on the US team who actually kicks hard enough to hurt the opponents when he fouls. If opponents are lying on the ground grasping a body part and whining for a call, they should have been kicked hard enough to make them actually suffer for it.

  11. Mr_A says:

    Lots of votes for LD, but no one defending him on the comments. I voted Howard as well, but LD’s hard work made it something of a toss-up for me. But the good news is that a lot of the guys did well. I’d have been happier with an earlier switch from EJ to Iceman, but subbing in Mix made sense at the time. Dempsey and Johnson … Well, Dempsey drew a lot of fire, and Johnson’s header was there when it mattered, so I can’t complain too much, but I’d still like to see AJ.

    • scott47a says:

      The continued lack of respect for what EJ brings in the comments on this site is laughable.

      • Increase says:

        It’s mostly cause he is superbad when he gets played at wing. Its not his fault, he is not a winger but I think that feeds through to peoples opinion of him.

      • Mr_A says:

        The respect is there, and he was solid. But after lying on the field for a while I would’ve subbed him out him out earlier, because he looked tired and often moved slower after that. The Univision camera feeds didn’t make it easy to watch off the ball threats, but he was a good dagger for the first 50 minutes, tiring out the defenders. But it’s still painful to see him do the shake-a-leg crossovers that get turned over: he should either get better at them and turn himself into a dribbler, or tone it back for international games.

      • Hunt Daddy says:

        It’s because his thought process is too slow a lot of times, that’s why he gets found out when he plays LW. He played good hold up and won two outstanding headers, but he was slow of thought during the normal run of play. His best asset is speed which he could have used to great effect on several counterattack opportunities. Instead he was reacting to the play instead of being proactive with his runs. I think EJ has good instincts, he just needs to trust them more.

  12. Dan in New York says:

    You forgot to mention the save by Howard off the near comical mishit by Beasley in front of the goal. To me, that was the save of the match because it was so early in the game and so unexpected. Also, the US really started off awful — almost an extension of the Costa Rica game — and Howard did a great job of imploring them to settle down. Definitely Man of the Match.

  13. Matt says:

    I dont agree with this at all, Howard made saves that any keeper SHOULD make. There was absolutely nothing spectacular about his saves. On mexicos first shot it was taken from a poor angle and directly, and mediocre keeper with half decent positions will stop that shot. Not a single man of the match nobody else can make this save moment in the game, period

    • Increase says:

      I dunno, he made one 2 handed save that was amazing because he held on the ball after. Most keepers would have just punched it out. I really don’t know how he held on it.

      • AcidBurn says:

        This. Most keepers would have punched that shot out, and Mexico had a player waiting for the juicy rebound that never came. If howard punches that aside most likely the Mexican fwd pounces on it and it’s in the net.

    • TomG says:

      Completely disagree. Howard kept them in the game. We were watching different matches, Matt.

      • Matt says:

        The question is did Howard contribute more than a player like Jones? And I would say ABSOLUTELY NOT. Jones covered extremely well defensively and was a valuable link between the defense and offence including setting up wide play very very well. None of the saves Howard made were abnormal for any keeper considered to be towards the top. Period, you can view it how you want but I would expect any keeper in the EPL or Bundasliga to make those same saves without in issue or question

        • Lil' Zeke says:

          Ah yes… the “good enough to play in the best leagues in Europe” penalty. Denying MOTM isn’t punishment enough — he should be tarred and boranged

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          Matt: but you wouldn’t likewise expect any CM in the EPL or Bundesliga to “cover extremely well defensively and [be] a valuable link between the defense and offence including setting up wide play”? I mean, that’s the definition of the position.

          I’m not arguing for/against Howard or Jones here, just trying to follow your logic.

    • biff says:

      I was surprised to see Tim named MOTM, and my initial thought was he is getting a bit if TLC after the criticism from the bad Costa Rica performance. But maybe I missed it last night in real time. I’ll have to look at the highlights again. I still think Brad Guzan is as good and is still improving. Cannot be sentimental next summer when it’s all on the line in Brazil, as Carlos Bocanegra learned and no doubt one or two others will be learning in coming months.

      • Matt says:

        Thats exactly it. Its because he was so criticized after the last game. He did not blow all the other players out of the water with his performance, he made saves i would expect him to make, plain and simple. Players like Donovan and Jones went well above and beyond what most players in those positions to do, especially Jones

    • JJ says:

      I agree he did everything he should have done. Solid outing.

  14. Craptacular9 says:

    Did anyone else think that in his postgame interview Howard looked like Rafi from the TV show The League?

    link to a.espncdn.com

  15. Scott e Dio93 says:

    I vote was for Gonzalez and second Goodson, Howards had shots from “El Chaco” were real danger, while the rest of shots from mexico were easy shots to control.

  16. Scott e Dio93 says:

    USNT were never bomber-ed by mexico, Howards made like two top class saves but vast majority mexico’s shots predictable and an average keeper should save them. Both Goodson and Gonzalez had Chicharito and Peralta controlled rather easily.

  17. Josh D says:

    Disagree with Howard. Howard did nothing more than be a keeper. He was there when we needed him to be so I don’t see why he went far and above anyone else. What did he do to earn MOM?

    To me, Jones was everywhere last night. Yes, he made that daft tackle that drew Bedoya’s card and yes, a few passes were off, but man he made the last ditch tackle after Gonzo’s gaff and he hounded the Mexican players like a dog after fresh meat. He completely out shined Beckerman and tried to control the middle when Beckerman was nowhere to be found during the first 20 mins. He also offered a bit of support in the attack.

    • Duracell says:

      +1000

    • Dando says:

      Absolutely. If not MOTM, then comeback player. If this is the Jones we get in WC we could go deep.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Jones “outshined” Beckerman? By what measure? i.e., do you have numbers to support your hunch?

      • Matt says:

        Higher pass completion number, better defensive coverage, better positioning, not everything has to have a number to support it id say all of those things are true in beckerman/jones comparison in this game

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          “Higher pass completion number”

          Jones: 48
          Beckerman: 46

          Pretty fine line you’re drawing—especially considering both are about double what any other USMNT player completed. In other words, they seem to have shared the passing load equally.

          Look, if you want to just feel that Jones outshone Beckerman that’s fine with me. I’m asking for numbers because I want to have an objective way to know if I missed something in the game I watched.

      • Josh D says:

        I don’t need facts. I watched the game and saw Jones everywhere and Beckerman seldom. But King made the point statistically – thanks!

        • joshw says:

          Mexican players are going to have nightmares about Jones.

          • biff says:

            that is exactly what I thought and I have no doubt Jones performance last night will be a topic of discussion among them for years to come.

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          I don’t need facts either. Watch:

          Jones didn’t score at all, whereas Beckerman scored 12 goals last night against Mexico. 12!! No USMNT player has scored that many goals in one match since Bebeto scored 15 goals to lead the USA in its 1996 World Cup final victory against Germany.

        • Lil' Zeke says:

          I don’t need facts either. Get these facts outta here. Don’t bother me with your so-called “facts” just because they are empirical and undisputed. Your facts are of no use to me as I mentally customize my universe.

    • Hunt Daddy says:

      I agree with you on Jones’ performance- MOTM for me. But I disagree with your assessment of Beckerman. Much like a CB, it’s not Beckerman’s job to go chasing the game and to get involved at every opportunity. If Beckerman is doing his job and is in the positions he should be he won’t necessarily see a lot of the ball. That’s the reason I thought Goodson had a better game than Gonzo last night. Gonzo made some great recovery plays, but a few times he had to make those last ditch tackles because he wasn’t in the right positions in the first place.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Hunt: we agree on Beckerman. (Incidentally, he completed 46 passes; Jones completed 48. Both of them distributed their passes pretty much the same in terms of who they passed to.)

        But I would just say one thing in defense of Gonzo: the guy got forward a lot last night. More so than Goodson, I believe (anyone know where to view the heat maps?). That may account for some of his being out of position.

        • Hunt Daddy says:

          Could be. I’m thinking specifically of the one or two times early in the first half that he was beaten by a straight ball over the top on a straight run by Gio. That’s a cardinal sin for a defender. There were other times when he almost got caught in a footrace with an attacker but had to go to ground to stop the play. Those are great tackles, but his timing being the slightest bit off could result in a red card or worse, a goal. The best defenders are the ones who don’t have to make acrobatic plays. Guys like Maldini, Nesta, Ferdinand in his heyday rarely had to make sliding challenges because they read the game so well. I’m not saying Gonzo should be at that level now, but there’s a reason why Mexico was attacking down his side most of the night. That said, he did have a very good game.

  18. Mr. Chippy says:

    “U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was similarly non-plussed by the criticism of his goalie” Nonplussed means baffled or perplexed. Neither Howard nor Klinsmann seemed either…

    • Pablo Maurer says:

      The phrase has multiple meanings. Among them is to be unperturbed. Don’t believe me? link to google.com

      • Mister JC says:

        I wonder how many people actually do word studies anymore. I learned so much in just a brief time looking up and reading about “nonplussed” and it’s origin. Granted, it’s not a word I use regularly, but I’m now able to articulate my use of it should I be disputed while saying it in a conversation.

        The More You Know!!!

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Pablo: A Google search is hardly an authority on word meanings. If you really want to be thorough, consult the Oxford English Dictionary:

        “Brought to a nonplus or standstill; at a nonplus; perplexed, confounded.”

        Okay, so what is a “nonplus?” Also from OED:

        “nonplus: A state in which no more can be said or done; inability to proceed in speech or action; a state of perplexity or puzzlement; a standstill. Etymology: classical Latin nōn plūs not more, no further –> nōn = not; plūs = more.”

        And the word has been essentially synonymous with “speechless” since its first recorded use by Robert Parsons in 1582.

        Where did this entirely ridiculous misuse of the word to mean “unperturbed” come from? OED explains:

        “In standard use nonplussed means ‘surprised and confused’…. In North American English a new use has developed in recent years, meaning ‘unperturbed’—more or less the opposite of its traditional meaning…. This new use probably arose on the assumption that non- was the normal negative prefix and must therefore have a negative meaning. It is not considered part of standard English.”

        Ah well, language is dynamic so words can take on new meanings—e.g., “cool” and “sweet” are now synonymous with “awesome” and “neat-o!” But those morphs didn’t 1) create opposite meanings or 2) occur out of sheer ignorance of what the words actually mean.

  19. Mwing09 says:

    My vote wouldve been a dual MOTM for the Gonzo-Goodson pairing. Hernandez was invisible most of the match (dont care how many goals he has in qualis or how many minutes he sees for ManU, still an amazing player), and I dont think I even noticed Peralta on the field once he came on.
    As a side note, not sure about all the votes for LD. He had a good outing, but not MOTM worthy for me. Sure a goal and assist on a stat sheet look great, but it was an open net from 3 yards out and a decently played corner kick. Not trying to take credit away from a good performance, but I thought the CBs and Jones both had better games, maybe Beckerman too if Im feeling nice.