Photo by ISIphotos.com
Tim Howard isn't a player who needs bulletin board material, least of all in a World Cup, but even he had to deliver some forceful words after hearing that Slovenian Andrej Komac's guarantee that Slovenia would beat the United States in their World Cup match on Friday.
“Talk is cheap," Howard said of the guarantee. "He’s got to stand toe-to-toe, and they’ve got to stand toe-to-toe with us for 90 minutes. If he’s still standing then I’ll tip my hat to him."
“A lot of boxers talk too, then they’re looking up at the lights and next thing you know they’re trying to figure out how they got there.”
As for whether the guarantee would motivate the Americans, Howard laughed it off.
“That means nothing to us,” Howard said. “We know they’re probably feeling confident after getting the three points, and rightfully so. As I said before, going into this group, everyone thought us and England would get out. I also said Algeria and Slovenia would probably think they have a heck of a chance."
Here are some other tidbits from U.S. camp:
When asked what would happen if an American made a guarantee like Komaj made, Oguchi Onyewu said an American player wouldn't make such a guarantee.
Onyewu admitted that playing well against England drew extra satisfaction because it helped silence critics who didn't believe he was ready to play.
To finally silence the naysayers it feels good to get them off my back, at least for one game.
On whether he could handle playing a full 90 minutes on Friday after playing his first 90 minutes in eight months on Saturday:
"I’ll go 90 as much as you want me to go 90. That’s not an issue. I consider myself a 90 minute player throughout my career."
Onyewu also said he was planning on keeping his beard for the whole tournament, though he didn't say why he was sporting it.
Landon Donovan had some high praise for young striker Jozy Altidore:
"Jozy has the ability at any time to pull off plays that not only guys on our team can't pull off, a lot of guys in the world can't pull off. Obviously the run by (Jamie) Carragher, and the shot, were an example of that."
What Jozy has improved at is being a force in other parts of the game when he’s not making a play like that. He did a pretty good job of that the other night."
Donovan also faced a tough question about feeling pressure after not having scored a goal in five World Cup matches:
“I don’t think about statistics, but it’s very clear to me as a leader that I have a responsibility to myself and to the club to be the leader and to do something to help the team. The young players shouldn’t have to lead, it should be the players with experience.”
Some other thoughts:
If Ricardo Clark and Robbie Findley are set to go to the bench, they aren't showing signs of it. Both players look confident and both appear encouraged by their performances against England, though both were singled out by many (including myself) as having had the weakest performances for the United States.
While Komej is guaranteeing victory, Slovenian media don't sound as confident about a Slovenia victory. Every Slovenian journalist I've spoken to has said they think the United States will win.
Friday's match against Slovenia could be the first World Cup match since 1994 where the United States has more fans in the stadium than the opponent. The Americans will be hoping to use that home-field advantage to break another streak. From 1994 to now, the United States hasn't beaten a World Cup opponent who wasn't a group favorite heading into the tournament. Both of their group stage wins since 1994 have come against group favorites (Colombia in 1994, Portugal in 2002). During that time, the Americans are winless against all non-Group favorites.
These are just some of the tidbits from camp recently. What did you think of Howard's comments? Surprised to see a Slovenian player step forward and make such a guarantee? See Altidore showing more flashes of the ability Donovan says he has?
Share your thoughts below.