Tim Howard sets U.S. wins record
HARRISON, N.J. -- Tim Howard didn't need to do much in his record-breaking 54th win for the United States.
There were plenty of huge saves on other days along the way to passing Kasey Keller for the most victories by a U.S. goalkeeper. On Sunday, Howard didn't allow a goal in the first half of a 2-1 exhibition win over Turkey before Brad Guzan took over.
At age 35, Howard is signed through 2018 with Everton and may be the biggest reason the Americans can hope to advance through their daunting group at the World Cup.
"After every year (you) kind of take stock of things and re-motivate yourself, because it's long, hard years," he said.
The ravages of time don't show in his game. Howard had 15 shutouts -- one off the Premier League lead -- in 37 matches for the Toffees this season.
Sunday's exhibition in his home state of New Jersey was Howard's 99th appearance for the U.S. He needs one more to tie Tony Meola at an even 100, and three more to match Keller for the most by an American goalie. If Howard plays in Saturday's exhibition finale against Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, he'd be on pace to break the record in Brazil.
The U.S. faces Ghana, Portugal and Germany at the World Cup, an underdog to get out of the group stage.
Asked how many more wins he has in him, Howard chuckled and said, "Hopefully a few."
"Hopefully, in the next couple weeks," he added, "four, at least."
Keller's backup at the 2006 World Cup, Howard took over as the starter the next year and began racking up the memorable moments.
Making eight saves to shut out Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinals. Playing the second half after a painkiller injection for a kick to the ribs to preserve a 1-1 tie in the 2010 World Cup opener against England.
Howard has 54 wins, 28 losses and 15 ties in his career; Keller had 53 wins, 27 losses and 18 draws. No U.S. goalie had been the No. 1 for back-to-back World Cups since Meola two decades ago.
In April, Howard extended his contract with Everton an additional two years to keep him with the club through his 39th birthday. That also happens to be the year of the next World Cup.
The grind of staying focused day after day after day adds to years of sustained excellence.
"Wanting to train every day, wanting to play every game. Not take days off," Howard said. "Then you pick your head up, and there you are 15 years later."