[BRAZIL 2014]The toast of the World Cup on Wednesday was U.S. goalie Tim Howard, whose jaw-dropping performance against Belgium earned him the Twitter hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave. Howard said he is trying to take the attention in stride and will give himself some time to think about his future with the national team.
At 35, this should have been the last World Cup for Howard, who set a U.S. record for appearances by a goalkeeper with his eighth start on Tuesday in Salvador.
"I’m old, so I’ve been dealing with it for a while," he says of the attention. "I keep my feet on the ground and just figure out a way to deal with it. Like I said, it’s nothing new when you’re in the public eye. It’s nice that America knows about soccer. I think that’s what’s most important.”
He says he wasn't surprised by the social media buzz.
"There are some very creative and funny individuals out there," he said. "If it makes them happy, I think it’s quite funny.”
In April, Howard signed a four-year contract with Everton that will keep him at Goodison Park through the 2017-18, which would end on the eve of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
"That excites me, all the good things that are going on at that club, which obviously is a club that I love," he said. "What happens going forward with the national team? I don’t know. The emotions are too raw at the moment so I’ll let everything die down. I’ll speak to people who are close to me and the manager and decide what my future looks like. I don’t think it’s very black and white to be honest, so I need to figure all that out.”
From a European lens, he views the cyclical uptick in interest in soccer as a positive.
"Every four years, America gets behind this team," he said. "Obviously, we have a good following anyway, but [America] gets behind this team and really drives us forward. I live in Europe and there are a lot of European countries that don’t. They’re very cynical. Their team goes to the World Cup and they don’t do very well and everyone says, ‘I told you so.’ I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that all the attention is on us every four years and that people take notice."
But he acknowledges it is hard to sustain that every day.
"Around the world, in Europe and Africa and Asia and South America, soccer is either the No. 1 sport or the only sport. In America, we’re competing with football, basketball, baseball, hockey. It’s not as easy a question as that, but the support has been immense.”
As for the just-completed run by the USA, Howard said it was important for the team's young players.
“The talent pool is rich," he said. "This was a very young team and even if guys didn’t play serious minutes, they were a part of this experience and they’ll be so much better for it in the coming years whether that be Copa America, Gold Cup, Confederations Cup, World Cup qualifying and on to the next World Cup."
He said the play of DeAndre Yedlin put a big smile on his face.
"He comes into the game and faces Eden Hazard and he never looked back," said Howard, "and Eden Hazard is the best player in the Premier League, or was one of them last year, and he’s a threat to anyone and DeAndre got his head down and dared him to come at him. I think it’s very exciting for U.S. Soccer.”