The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

July 2, 2014

Tim Howard's best not enough to save U.S. World Cup run

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Tim Howard kept the ball out of the net with slides, with dives and with leaps.

He couldn't do it forever.

With the United States trying to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002, he saved 12 of Belgium's shots in regulation to keep the game scoreless.

But Kevin De Bruyne scored in the 93rd minute and Romelu Lukaku in the 105th to build a two-goal lead for the Red Devils, who hung on for a 2-1 win Tuesday that eliminated the Americans in the second round for the second straight World Cup.

Howard tried to sound modest.

"I'm just trying to do all the things that have gotten me here and gotten us here," he said. "That's what I signed up to do — stick my face in front of balls. It's nothing startling."

Howard finished with 16 saves, the most in a World Cup game since FIFA started keeping track in 2002. It was his finest performance in 13 years with the national team.

"For my heart, please don't give me too many games like this," Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said. "He was in a state of grace."

Howard was the first goalkeeper to be America's No. 1 in consecutive World Cups since Tony Meola in 1990 and '94. His 104 international appearances are the U.S. record, two more than the previous mark held by Kasey Keller.

"Tim was awesome for us," U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said. "As you would expect from him."

Howard yells a lot during games. More than most goalkeepers.

And his teammates love him for that.

"He's somebody that we rely on so much for his performances on the field but also his leadership and his presence," midfielder Michael Bradley said. "There's not enough good things to say about him as a player, as a man, as a leader."

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