Photo by ISIphotos.com
If the Mexican national team is going to escape Columbus with an upset win against the U.S. National team on Wednesday they will need to beat Tim Howard to do so, something that hasn't been easy for some of the best teams in the world to do.
Howard's recent run with Everton includes a streak of 12 games without allowing more than one goal, and he just finished a grueling stretch of games over a 16-day span that included the following matches:
Liverpool, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Look at that list again. Howard faced all those opponents over a little more than two-week span. In other words, don't look for Howard to be fazed by the magnitude of Wednesday's World Cup qualifer.
"I've been a pro for a long time now but that was definitely an intense run of games," said Howard, who posted a 0.80 goals during that two-week stretch. "It's good because you can't let up, another game comes and you have to be ready to go."
Howard will be playing in his fifth match against Mexico on Wednesday ( 2-0-2 with three goals allowed), and acknowledges that while the roles in the rivalry have reversed somewhat with the U.S. team as the favorite, Mexico is still a dangerous team the Americans won't be taking lightly.
"They're a good team, they're still Mexico and still have players who can hurt you if you make a mistake," Howard said. "It's a good rivalry but there's no hatred there. We respect them and respect that they can beat us if we don't play well."
Howard believes the U.S. team comes into Wednesday's match confident not just because of the team's recent success against Mexico (The United States is 8-0-2 in its past 10 home games vs. Mexico) but also because of the U.S. team's strong run in the previous round of World Cup qualifying.
"There is a lot of confidence in this group and going through that round gave a lot of players good experience because there's really no substitute for playing in qualifying," Howard said. "Even for me, I hadn't played through a whole round of qualifying before last year. We had a good run and played well and we're confident it can carry over to this round."
That round begins on Wednesday, with Howard casting an imposing shadow in the U.S. net.