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- DOB March 6, 1979
- Age 35
- Place of birth North Brunswick, New Jersey
- POSITION Goalkeeper
- HEIGHT 6'3"
- WEIGHT 210
- U.S. CAPS 96
- CLUB Everton
- Current ASN 100 Rank 3
- Previous ASN 100 Rank 5
Tim Howard is the latest in a long line of outstanding American netminders. The Jersey-born goalkeeper coolly oversees the U.S. defense, growing fiery only when a member of his backline errs in his duties. His veteran presence has a calming effect on the constantly in-flux back four, a character trait that is as valuable as his shot-stopping ability.
Manchester United shocked the world in 2003, signing Howard—then with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars—on the strength of a $4 million transfer fee. He started at Manchester United for three seasons before losing his job to Edwin van der Sar; in the wake of the demotion, Howard was loaned to Everton. The move became permanent in 2007, the same year Howard took over as No. 1 netminder for the United States. He hasn't given up either starting spot since, making more than 200 appearances for the Toffees and more than 75 in an American shirt.
Howard is a rock-solid ’keeper. Back in 2004, Daily Telegraph scribe Ben Lyttleton offered this observation, which still applies: "A lot of goalkeepers want to look good. They dribble the ball around an attacker because it's a sexy thing to do and the fans love it. Tim spreads himself all over. He just wants to get his body in the way. He doesn't mind making ugly saves. It's the sign of a great goalkeeper." (Howard on that same idea: "If it looks great, fantastic. If it looks ugly and works, that's OK. I just try and stop it. That's it.") He can also be spectacular, but if anything, he has gotten more pragmatic as he's grown older. Now in his 30s, Howard is not the superhuman shot stopper he once was, and he struggles occasionally on crosses and set pieces, but his organizational prowess and ability to communicate is essential as the U.S. rotates new players into its defense. One overlooked aspect of Howard’s game: His distribution frequently spurs the counterattack. (See: U.S.-Algeria, World Cup 2010.)
There is no up-and-comer pushing for Howard's spot—Brad Guzan’s development has been stunted by inactivity and the next generation of goalkeepers (Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, etc.) are still too raw. It appears that the New Jerseyan will be the No.1 choice at least through 2014. Howard isn't quite at the top of the pyramid for all-time great Stars and Stripes ’keepers but a solid run over the next few years will improve his standing dramatically. There's no reason to think he can't maintain his impressive form for both club and country.—NOAH DAVIS
Klinsmann on Howard:
"[He's] one of the best five goalkeepers in the world." (May 2012)