Tim Howard: U.S. Secretary of Defense

usa keeper tim howard

Player Profile

Date of Birth: 06/03/1979

Height: 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)

Position: Goalkeeper

National Team: United States Men’s National Team

International Caps: 121

International Goals: 0

Club Career

Tim Howard’s long and incredible soccer career began in New Jersey before he even graduated from high school. He made 6 appearances for local lower division side North Jersey Imperials where his coach also happened to be the goalkeeping coach for MLS side NY/NJ MetroStars. Those 6 appearances were all it took for Howard to get the call up to the big leagues.

The goalkeeper took his time settling into life as a professional soccer player, as any teenager would. In his first season in MLS, Howard made only 8 starts for a MetroStars team that would win just 7 matches that season. His first season was also disrupted at various points due to training with the Under-20 U.S. team ahead of the FIFA World Youth Championships and Pan American Games.

Eventually, Howards star turned and he became the best goalkeeper in the league. He won the 2001 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award and was included in the MLS Best XI in 2001 and 2002. Unfortunately for Howard and MetroStars fans, his successes did not lead to any league titles or trophies.

His work in MLS had not gone unnoticed, and in the middle of the 2003 MLS season English giants, Manchester United bought Howard for $4 million. He was bought to replace Fabien Barthez, United’s former first-choice goalkeeper.

Howard’s career for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils got off to a flying start as he saved the decisive penalty in United’s Community Shield victory over rivals Arsenal. In his first season at Old Trafford Howard won the Community Shield, and the FA Cup and was also named in the PFA Best XI.

All this glory did not come without baggage however, as errors in the Champions League had caused a dip in confidence. These confidence issues would continue to haunt Howard in his second season in Manchester and he was dropped for backup keeper Roy Carroll. The two goalkeepers traded places over the course of the season, but Howard would never fully regain his starting position.

Despite this, Howard was signed to a new contract that was supposed to keep him in Manchester until 2009. But the writing was on the wall for Howard when United brought in veteran Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar from Fulham.

Next, he was off to Merseyside where he joined Everton on loan ahead of the 2006-07 season. The move would be made permanent later that season and it was at Everton where Howard found a home and truly thrived.

Tim Howard would play for Everton 354 times in the league and many more in all competitions. In 2009, Howard saved two penalties against his former club, United, to send Everton to the FA Cup Final against Chelsea. During that season, Howard also set the club record for the most clean sheets in one season.

In March of 2012, Howard signed a new deal keeping him at Everton through the summer of 2016. In May of 2013, Howard kept his 100th clean sheet for the club, which came in the heated Merseyside Derby against Liverpool.

In the winter of 2016, Howard was struggling with a knee injury that was causing a dip in his otherwise stellar form. Manager Roberto Martinez made the decision for replace Howard with backup Joel Robles. This move signaled the beginning of the end for Howard at Goodison Park, and he made an emotional goodbye to the Evertonians he had entertained for so long.

In the summer of 2016, Howard made his move back to America and signed with MLS side Colorado Rapids. He would go on to make 100 appearances for the Denver-based club, including a memorable penalty shootout where he saved 2 penalties to send Colorado to the Western Conference Finals. He was named an MLS All-Star in 2017.

Tim Howard finally retired from football in October 2019, following the end of the MLS regular season.

In total, Howard played in 594 professional games in 22 seasons. He remains a legend at Everton Football Club, and is one of the greatest players in American soccer history. He will be a first-ballot U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame inductee when he becomes eligible.

International Career

Tim Howard had an extended career with various American youth international teams before finally breaking into the senior squad and getting his first full cap. Such is the way it goes when you are behind two globally respected goalkeepers in Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.

Finally though, in March 2002 Howard got his first cap. Over the subsequent few years, Howard would earn a few caps here and there leading up to the 2006 World Cup. He was one of 3 goalkeepers named to the U.S. roster but was again relegated to a backup role, this time behind Kasey Keller.

After the 2006 World Cup, Howard became the first-choice goalkeeper, a job he wouldn’t relinquish for nearly a decade.

In 2007 this confidence was rewarded when Howard led the U.S. to a CONCACAF Gold Cup victory with a 2-1 win over bitter rival Mexico. Howard’s big global performance came two years later at the 2009 Confederations Cup, when the U.S. took second-place and Howard was awarded the Golden Gloves, for the tournament’s best goalkeeper.

He made his World Cup debut a year later in a 1-1 draw with England in the opening round of the group stages. Later in the tournament, he made the crucial decision to throw quickly to Landon Donovan in the dying stages of the Americans’ final group game against Algeria. The decision lead to an incredible moment when Donovan scored and not only pushed the U.S. into the knockout round but earned them a place at the top of their group.

There was much anxiety and hand-wringing from American fans ahead of the 2014 World Cup as the United States was drawn in the tournament’s “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. Despite the stiff competition, the United States managed to escape the group stages after drawing against Portugal, where Howard was named Man of the Match, beating Ghana and losing to Germany.

Howard’s performance against Belgium in the round of 16 earned him global meme status. Howard faced immense pressure from the Belgians, along the way to setting a World Cup single-game record for most saves with 15. This inspired the Twitter hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave, and some clever editing to his Wikipedia page which changed his occupation to United States Secretary of Defense. Despite his best efforts, the U.S. was beaten in overtime 2-1 after a match-winning strike by then Everton teammate, Romelu Lukaku.

Following the 2014 World Cup, Howard took a break from the national team but returned to play 17 more times for the Stars and Stripes, including in 2017 when the U.S. won the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Howard retired from international duty with 121 caps, more than any other American goalkeeper. He finished his career with 2 Gold Cup victories and a FIFA Confederations Cup Runners-Up medal. He is considered one of the greatest American goalkeepers of all-time.

Where is Tim Howard Now?

In December 2019, it was announced that Howard would be taking over as general manager for Memphis 901, an American second-tier club he part-owns.

Did You Know? Interesting facts About Tim Howard

– Howard is part owner of English lower division club Dagenham & Redbridge, as well as part-owner of American second-tier club Memphis 901.

– As a middle schooler, Howard was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and OCD.  This caused the English newspaper, the Independent, to write that United was “trying to sign a ‘disabled’ goalkeeper.”

– Howard is one of only 4 goalkeepers to score in a Premier League match.

– At one point in his Everton career he appeared in 210 straight matches.