KEIR RADNEDGE in SALVADOR —- Statistical records state that Tim Howard made more saves (25) in the United States’ extra-time defeat by Belgium than any other goalkeeper in any World Cup finals match since such records were tracked back to 1966.
Not that this registered to the Everton keeper in the regrets of defeat after what was, for spectators and viewers around the world, yet another memorable occasion in the Arena Fonte Nova as the US adventure in Brazil came to a second round halt by 2-1.
Both managers were full of praise after the match. That the US reached half-time, never mind full-time and the right to extra time was entirely due to Howard. His team-mates battled manfully against a superior footballing force and he covered the remaining distance between the teams.
“We played our hearts out,” he said on receiving the man of the match award, scant consolation for the lost prize of a quarter-final against Argentina.
“We’ve been playing well all tournament but sometimes, when you give your best and you fight and you scrap, it doesn’t work out.
“Belgium were a good team. Hats off to them. They created a lot of chances. They’re top quality players. But it hurts. Losing always hurts. When we played so well it stings that much more.”
Howard considered his own Red Devils-defying role irrelevant in the overall perspective of defeat.
He said: “None of that really matters to me. I think: that’s what I’m assigned to do. It’s part of the job. It hurts when we lose. Whether I had no saves or 20 saves it doesn’t mean any more or less.”
Overall, Howard did appreciate all team’s the positive achievements at the World Cup finals. He said: “We dreamed and we fell short of our dream but I think to come out of the group of death playing well and come up against the Belgian team was a tough assignment. They’re a tough team. They put us under pressure.
“But we were right there, you know! We nearly had it. We’re proud of ourselves. This is a young group. We’ll be back. We’re hungry. We’ve tasted what it feels like to play against the best players in the world, the best players around Europe.
“Hopefully, we’ll be back for more.”
Both managers were full of praise for Howard.
Belgium’s Marc Wilmots described Howard’s displays as “fantastic” and US coach Jurgen Klinsmann thought his performance “phenomenal.”
Klinsmann added: “He kept us a long time in the game. He had an amazing match and the more the game went on the more chances we created – on the back of Tim, really. It was thanks to him that we had that possibilities we did over 120 minutes.
“It was an amazing goalkeeping performance. He should be proud of hmself.”