Less than a day after making controversial comments regarding the commitment of dual-nationals on the U.S. Men’s National Team, Tim Howard has attempted to clarify his comments.
In an interview with USA Today on Tuesday, Howard was highly critical of former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s policy on recruiting dual-national players, saying that during his reign, the team struggled to “truly believe in the shirt” and that the team “lost that a little bit over the last couple of years”.
The comments were reminiscent of now-retired U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach’s heavily criticized comments earlier in 2016, but Howard states that his intention was never to question the place of dual-nationals in the USMNT set-up, but rather those who don’t play with their full heart, fully American or otherwise, as he addressed the controversy while speaking to ESPN FC.
“Some of them are [dual nationals], but I think others are players who have their roots here in America too,” said Howard. “It’s not exclusive to them because some of our dual nationals have been brilliant. Jermaine Jones has been a rock for our national team. He’s been one of the heartbeats. Fabian Johnson has been brilliant for us. So, no, that wasn’t aimed at any one person in particular.”
One of the players Howard referenced, Jones, who is a German-American dual-national, chimed in with his own thoughts on Howard’s comments to ESPN FC as well.
“It’s dangerous stuff where you have to be careful what you’re saying,” stated Jones. “With all the respect for Timmy, I feel it’s not if you’re half American or full-American. It’s more what you have in here [taps his chest]. If you go on the field and you give everything for this country, then of course sometimes there’s a situation where you’re not playing good. But it’s normal. That can happen to everybody, and that’s what you have to understand.”
“People, especially in this country, they always try to figure out what [are] the mistakes.” Jones stated. “Now, where everything goes wrong and we lost the first two games, we say maybe the German-Americans are the problem. But when we played the World Cup, I scored. [John] Brooks scored, and it’s ‘oh, the German-Americans are American boys.’ We played two bad games, yes. That’s a fact. All the criticism that comes from outside, that’s good. That’s soccer. It has to be like that. But you have to see the bigger picture, and that’s the whole team. There’s not an American guy and a German-American. The whole team played bad, so that’s the fact. To put it on this guy or this guy, I think it’s not correct from nobody.”