U.S. goalkeeper Howard opens up
MANCHESTER, England -- U.S. goalkeeper
Ever since Howard went straight from MLS'
Howard and I had a far-ranging conversation Monday, with topics including his interactions with
When you first come over as a player it's really, really weird. People say odd comments, both negative and positive, and you're getting it buying coffee, buying a newspaper, picking your kids up from school. There's always someone there with eyes on you or something to say. And the games mean so much to these people that they're always pointing a finger, good or bad. It's really hard to get used to at first. Your head feels like it's spinning. But eventually you come around.
There have been questions across Europe and across different clubs about that. Good goalkeepers are hard to come by. I think you can see that overall. There's always going to be a goalkeeper on the move, and there happens to be a domino effect. But I feel like I'll be staying put for a while, I hope.
We've had awful injuries this year, the worst I've ever known in my club career. Long-term injuries to big players. You talk about the amount of games missed, it would be frightening to look at the numbers. As far as the U.S. goes, it's probably the same thing. Some of our biggest players have taken injuries. With now
But we're hoping that Charlie [Davies] makes it, hoping that Jermaine Jones makes it. Gooch [
It's an easy team to come into. Guys are welcomed with open arms, and we've heard great things about him. It was good to finally have him around. I heard it basically through [journalists] what he's like, and I saw pictures and I read things. So it was really good to get alongside him and talk to him a little bit and meet him and have him around. And hopefully in the buildup he will get fit and be a part of the team. That would be really cool.
Landon was a perfect example of that. You're used to all the good players you play with, and then someone comes in and adds a bit of life and spunk and spirit, and to have that little injection right before the World Cup would be great. If we can get Charlie back, it would be the same feeling. We're hoping both of them can be back.
So this may have been the opportunity for him to really step back from the game, whether he wanted to or not. He's rehabbing now, he's back in Europe, and with that hunger, that fire, he's obviously got the goal of being there for the World Cup. That's driving him. He was a fun guy to be around, and I feel like he's even more motivated now. His spirits have been high, and from all accounts he's ahead of schedule, which must make him feel good and continue to motivate him.
On the field he's done really well. He's showed his talent getting forward, running at people, and he's got a fantastic touch and a nose for the goal when he gets there. He'll kind of be like a cult hero here, because he's here-today-gone-tomorrow, and in that little time he played really well. So he's going to leave people wanting so much more, and that's a good thing. The fans have really taken a liking to him, and you saw that [Sunday]. It was probably his last game at Goodison.
Having said that, it's not going to be as easy as that. We have to go out and perform over the course of three segments of 90 minutes against teams that are going to be fighting tooth and nail to kick our behinds. So I do realize that. But I feel like when we're playing at a really high level, this is a group that we have the ability to get through. Now having said that, we could be talking in July about a whole different ballgame. But at the moment where this team is, we can go there and perform and go into all those games very, very confident.
Having said that, as much as you want to have a good start, there are still two other [group] games. You saw it in Confederations Cup. We didn't have a great start, but in the end it worked out. So regardless of the result, we'll hold out hope. But I feel like with all the work that is going to be put in and has already been put in, if we can at a minimum pull out a draw there, we'll feel really good about ourselves.
When you play the big teams, it would be very difficult for us to dominate those games. When you play Brazil and Manchester United and the big teams, they don't get dominated very often. They don't lose very often. So you have to kind of play the cards that you're dealt. We realize our strengths, and that's part of our strength as a unit: staying compact, getting all over the field and trying to put pressure on.
In Holland in the first half of that game we were very good in stretches. Yes, they had the amount of possession, but they didn't cause a whole lot of problems. I think the best shot they had on goal was from
So now you're thinking, When we get to the World Cup it's on foreign soil against big teams; how are we going to fare? We've shown somewhat of a consistency. We haven't won every game, but we have beaten some teams on foreign soil: Switzerland, Poland and Spain in South Africa. So there have been games that have given people a reason to believe we will get out of the group if we play well enough.