After the recent USA Men’s Soccer qualifiers, it appears that once again we may have to slog through another overrated performance by Tim Howard (pictured above in a familiar pose) in the next World Cup. I’ve never been a fan of this guy since I first laid eyes on him in the Barclays Premiere League, where Tim would dash out of his net and scream at his defenders as if to suggest, ‘How dare you allow a professional forward to get a shot off over the course of 90 minutes.’
To me there are three camps when it comes to Tim Howard. There are true soccer fans who watch all the worlds’ great goalkeepers and understand positioning and decision making from that spot on the field, and see that Tim is not very good at either. Then there are the casual fans who eat up whatever they hear on TV and just run with the fact Howard is great without ever really studying what he does. And then there is the cattle herd US media who over inflate everything he does for both the fact that Tim is the poster boy for US Soccer, and because a large portion of the media has never played the game. Before you accuse me of piling on, in 2014-15, Tim was rated the worst goalie in England. Several Howard backers claimed that Everton’s defense was bad, but the stats did not bore that out, in fact his team, Everton, led the league in lowest shots on target by the opposition. In short, Howard sucked.
I’m not suggesting Tim Howard is a bad goalkeeper, I’m stating that he is highly over rated and when he is bad, no one ever points out his shortcomings. Here’s an example. In the last World Cup, during the group stage, Tim allowed a weak shot to somehow go through his hands, but luckily the shot hit the post and rebounded back to the top of the box. It was a major blunder for a U10 goalie, you can go back and youtube it. The ball was trickling towards him. The rebound shot is actually a great save by Howard. Yet not one mention of the blunder that could have led to a goal, and actually forced Howard into having to extend out to make a great save. Not a peep in any paper I read, or on the telecast. All I heard was “Howard with a great save!” Right, but instead of using his hands to make a great save, he should have been using them to pick his ass after having punted the ball out to midfield. Tim Howard is apparently beyond reproach.
He also gave up two goals in the round robin by doing something I don’t see other goalies do, namely, dropping to one side before the shot is even hit. Penalty shots are often played with this strategy, because the shooter can’t fake. But during live action, Howard is already committing and allowing the shooter to now go the other way because he spots Tim laying on the ground like a beached whale? Absurd. Youtube the goal by Mueller in the Germany game. Howard makes a save, but any goalie knows you punch saves out to the sides, but Tim paddles it out right out in front of his net to Mueller as if he’s engaged in a game of handball. Mueller, whose eyeballs suddenly grow as large as grape tomatoes, thanks Tim for the pass and pockets it in the corner. Again no mention of Teflon Tims’ error by the announcers.
Howard is also constantly standing at his six box, getting chipped repeatedly. (See : Tim Howard blunder on youtube, where he gets beat with a goalie punt from 110 yards away). There are times you have to play at the six, I get it, due to the flat back four and you want to get some of the through balls, but how about dropping back to your line when you sense a shot is coming? Decision making when pressure is on him is probably his biggest weakness. He’s constantly firing souvenir balls into the stands because he took a big touch or didn’t fake the forward out one side before going the other way and executing his pass. Then under duress he has to toe the ball into Section 232. He also flares many of his left footed kicks out of bounds and his right footed ones aren’t exactly homing in on their intended targets either. Brutal to watch.
Lastly the most over hyped Tim Howard performance of all is the 16 save game vs Belgium. It’s now become an American myth. Most of the shots are low and right at his body or feet. They are often shot from a poor angle on the wing as well. He does make some great saves, I’m not saying he can’t stop shots, he has to be good at something to get to this level. But if we are taking quality over quantity, there are not enough great saves to overcome the fact that Belgium beat us like a drum and just couldn’t hit the corners on their finishing opportunities. So I’m hoping the USA can qualify and perform well at the World Cup, but I’m not hopeful with Timmy in there.