United States goalkeeper Tim Howard was outstanding in a FIFA World Cup round of 16 match against Belgium at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014, in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SALVADOR, Brazil – Despite the disappointment of falling to Belgium 2-1 on Tuesday in a riveting round of 16 clash, United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was full of praise after the World Cup game.
While also making sure to compliment his team collectively, the 49-year-old had nothing but superlatives for goalkeeper Tim Howard, whose Man of the Match effort was one for the ages.
“I have to say that what Tim Howard did tonight was phenomenal, outstanding and amazing,” said Klinsmann. “He kept us in the game. He had an absolutely amazing match and you have to give him all the plaudits.”
Howard was at his brilliant best against the Belgians, making 16 saves (the most in World Cup history by any keeper since 1966) en route to one of the greatest goalkeeping performances in U.S. soccer history. While Belgium patrolled the American defense looking for a way to crack the safe, Klinsmann readily acknowledged that Howard kept the talented Europeans at bay.
“We know how important Tim Howard is to us,” noted the German. “He did a tremendous job of keeping us in the game tonight.”
Howard’s performance even merited acclaim from the opposing coach Marc Wilmots, who labeled the Everton man as “fantastic.”
The shots came at Howard early and often. The former Manchester United shot-stopper sprung to action just 40 seconds after kick-off, thwarting the dangerous Divock Origi.
Many of Howard’s best saves on Tuesday came with his legs, perhaps none more exceptional than his 75th minute denial of Everton teammate Kevin Mirallas, which was barely deflected away for a corner kick.
In typical Howard fashion, when asked about his performance, the 35-year-old preferred to shift the focus towards the team.
“It's heartbreaking,” expressed Howard. “I don't think we could have given any more. We left it all out there. We got beaten by a really good team. They took their chances well. It’s heartache, it hurts. But hats off to Belgium, they were fantastic.”