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Tim Howard’s return ‘clockwork’ for USMNT


“Clockwork.” That was one word used to describe Tim Howard’s return to competitive action with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Playing in his first meaningful game since the now-legendary Belgium performance at last summer’s World Cup, Howard proved a calming presence in the USMNT’s 0-0 draw with Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday night.

Wearing the unfamiliar No. 12 jersey, Howard remained relatively untested throughout the night, but was likely the busier of the two goalkeepers. Yet, Howard’s contributions weren’t measure in high-flying saves or miraculous throws like World Cups past; rather, they were measured in the mental edge he provided for a U.S. team that has lacked one in recent months.

“It’s clockwork,” said defender Geoff Cameron. “It’s always great playing in front of him and he has confidence in me and I have confidence in him. Knowing that if I get beat, he’s there to back me up. It’s great to see him back on the pitch.”

“With Tim, it was a very kind of calm, focused,” added head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “All of the experience the he has, it was very controlled 90 minutes from Tim Howard. Everything that came toward him was absolutely no issue at all. It’s just great to have him back.”

While current co-starter Brad Guzan has developed in Howard’s absence, so too has the backline. In front of Howard played Cameron and Matt Besler, a veteran partnership that is continuing to find reps and chemistry with on another in each game they play.

It provides an interesting question: is the defense more confident and controlled with Howard in net, or is the longtime USMNT goalkeeper benefitting from a unit that is getting better by the game?

For Howard, at least, the answer is a little bit of the latter.

“It was good. I think both Brad and I have confidence in those guys,” Howard said following the draw. “They’re growing as a partnership and I think that’s important. They handled a different test tonight. It wasn’t just the ticky-tack in and out an through; it was more aerial battles and having to hold their lines and they did very well.”

“I think they deserve a huge compliment, both of them,” Klinsmann added of Besler and Cameron. “They had Kenwyne Jones pretty much completely under control and that’s a guy that can score at any moment, especially when you don’t expect it. It was, for both, a very good performance and they made themselves a strong case, there’s no doubt about it.”

With the centerback situation looking a bit clearer, how the U.S. handles the goalkeeper situation in the coming months remains to be seen. Since making his return following the Gold Cup, Howard has seen his time split with Guzan with neither truly making a wrong step in their respective action.

With four months between Tuesday’s draw and the USMNT’s next qualifier, plenty can change int he current situation. But no matter who is in net, the veteran Howard believes the U.S. is in a position to succeed when it comes to this round of World Cup qualifying.

“We’ve gone on the road and lost the first game,” said Howard. “This was a good point. We kept it tight in the back and created some pretty good chances. Not many, but a couple of good chances. I think it sets it up really nicely for March, for sure.”


  1. Howard seems more confident and assured than Guzan. While Besler and Cameron look like a good combination, I think John Brooks is developing nicely, too.

    • Ream was a good sub when his legs tired with the pace. Once fabian went back there T&T did absolutely nothing. They didnt do too much all match really.

  2. I did not witness a strong backline the past two games that should be left be. I saw us look shaky against TnT but escape 0-0 and give up one to St. V. In both games we tried real hard to give up early goals.

    Howard is more reliable and should be back there particularly because I wouldn’t expect our defense to hold anyone right now.


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