(ABOVE) Tim Howard (dark blue jersey) speaks to the press before a USA training session on November 10, 2015, in Miami Shores, Florida.
MIAMI SHORES, Florida – United States goalkeeper Tim Howard is ready move to forward and wants to leave the past behind.
The Americans were eliminated by Jamaica on home soil in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals in July and failed to book a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup with a loss to Mexico in October’s CONCACAF Cup. Howard took part in neither competition.
The Everton custodian, though, is looking ahead with great anticipation to the USA’s opener in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, when St. Vincent & the Grenadines visits Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday.
"That's the distant past," said Howard, after being asked about a run that has seen the U.S. go winless in five of its last six matches, including three straight losses. "We're a good team. Part of being a good team is drawing from experience and we know what it’s like for qualifying for the World Cup and no one does it better. I don't know how many World Cups in a row, but we continue to qualify. We do it in style. I'm not going to worry about a few difficult months."
The U.S. has never faced SVG in qualifying. This is, after all, the furthest the Caribbean side has advanced in the competition, getting past Aruba, 3-2 on aggregate, to reach the first group stage.
"They'll present some challenges, but at the end of the day the way you qualify for a World Cup is winning your home games and that's what we'll be focused on doing," Howard commented.
After a self-imposed 15-month sabbatical from the international scene, Howard has returned to compete for the top spot with Brad Guzan. His first game back came in a 1-0 loss at home to Costa Rica last month.
"It was a perfect time for me to do it," said the 36-year-old. "I came back. Nothing ever changed. I was as hungry as ever. More than anything, I was missing it, missing playing with these guys and pulling on the shirt, hearing the national anthem. Playing for your country is the ultimate."
Playing in another World Cup would take that sensation to another level.
"Even though it's a long, challenging journey, the reward at the end is priceless," Howard finished. "That's all what we dream of, to be able to do it again as a group. Brazil was special for all those reasons. I personally would like to be part of a group who pushes and has a real good run."