116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Know Your Yanks: Tim Howard

Goalkeeper of the future, and Red Devil for life (well, maybe not so much), Tim Howard is a name that any USA fan is familiar with. With clouds of uncertainty forming over his head, he departs for his first World Cup in 2006.

Entering his peak years at age 27, Tim Howard's list of career achievements would be impressive for any goalkeeper, let alone an American. After making his pro debut in the USISL, Howard signed with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) in 1998, eventually becoming the team's first choice by 2001. His spectacular skill with the MetroStars enabled him to win the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2001, and he was named to the MLS Best XI for both 2001 and 2002.
What followed was perhaps the best season ever by any American; midway through the 2003 MLS season, Howard was snapped up by English champions Manchester United, and, during their 2004 run, he took over first-team goalkeeping duties from French legend Fabian Barthez. Howard turned in a spectacular performance that year, becoming the first-ever American to win the F.A. Cup, as well as the first American named to the PFA Best XI. In addition, he was named English Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year. Howard was now an American pioneer, the first to attain true stardom in Europe.
Howard's run at the top didn't last long, however. He followed up his amazing 2004 season with a disastrous 2005 campaign, where he found himself unable to hold on to his starting position. Manchester United, in a show of faith, renewed his contract until 2009 and released his goalkeeping competition, but then (unpleasantly) surprised Howard by signing Dutch star Edwin van der Sar to be their new Number One. Howard spent the 2006 season even more unhappily, riding the bench while van der Sar turned in stellar performances for United, and asked to be loaned out at season's end. Manchester United complied, and a loan deal was agreed upon with Everton FC, for whom Howard will man the nets in 2006-07.
Howard, who has lived with Tourette's Syndrome throughout his life, is an activist for children with Tourette's, and received the MLS Humanitarian of the Year award in 2001. He made his U.S. debut in 1999, and has long been considered the team's goalkeeper of the future. He will likely take over as the first-choice goalkeeper for the USA once the World Cup is over. He is a tall keeper with outstanding athleticism, and he plays an aggressive style (which occasionally gets him into trouble). He goes into the World Cup as the #2 keeper for the U.S., but will have to fight it out with Marcus Hahnemann to hold onto that spot. A good camp and possible World Cup action may be the lift Howard needs to rejuvenate his career.

Career Highlights:

1997: Makes pro debut with the North Jersey Imperials (USA, United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues).

1998: Signs with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (USA, Major League Soccer).

1999: Makes U.S. Men's National Team debut.

2001: Named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Named to MLS Best XI. Named MLS Humanitarian of the Year.

2002: Named to MLS Best XI.

2003: Joins Manchester United (England, Premier League) from MLS on a $3 million transfer.

2004: Wins F.A. Cup with Manchester United. Named EPL Goalkeeper of the Year. Named to PFA Best XI.

2006: Joins Everton FC (England, Premier League) on loan from Manchester United.


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