With 65 caps for the United States and several major international tournaments under his belt, goalkeeper Tim Howard is a veteran presence for the U.S. Men’s National Team both on and off the field. His steady play and leadership qualities will be relied upon as the team transitions to working with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann while simultaneously getting ready to play against their biggest rivals. With the team convening Sunday, there are only a few precious days to prepare before meeting Mexico on Aug. 10 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. ussoccer.com asked Howard about the adjustment period under Klinsmann and looked forward to the next edition of the USA-Mexico rivalry.
ussoccer.com: The U.S. Men’s National Team gets back to it for our first game since June. Obviously there were some big changes since then. What is it like as a player to come into a camp with a new head coach and try to hit the ground running?
Tim Howard: “I think it’s normal anytime your boss changes, you have to adapt very quickly, listen more than speak, find out what he expects, what his likes and dislikes are, and try to fall into line. We have a good group of guys, and I think that’s a consistent thing you hear. We’ll be able to step onto the field and continue to fight for one other like we always have. Some ideas will be different of course because it’s a different coach, but hopefully we’ll get very similar results.”
ussoccer.com: What’s it like for a veteran player like you to come into a situation like this. What do you have to do help continue to move the team forward?
TH: “I think nothing different. It’s the same as I always have, which is try and learn and grow. But as you get older, you get to know what works and what doesn’t work and hopefully that will propel us forward. The core group of veterans need to find stability, get with the coach and understand what he likes and then of course, like anything else, the younger guys will follow suit. If the older guys can set that tone, then we should be okay.”
ussoccer.com: What are the challenges of a short trip like this? Guys arrived last night and we’ve had a couple training sessions already but we’re just 48 hours from the game against Mexico.
TH: “Instincts take over. We need to win the game. It’s important for us, for the rivalry, and it’s important to get off to a good winning start. There’s a lot of challenges that have to be met with the travel, the recovery and the lineups, and again just a lot of adapting. It’s going to take all hands on deck and hopefully we get it right with a good performance and we can build from that.”
ussoccer.com: You mention a good performance by the team. What will make the trip a success?
TH: “I think winning is the really the only thing to focus on. Obviously performances are important, because I think if you put in consistent performances often times you get the results you want. That’s important, but at the end of the day winning is what makes everyone happy. Right now we have a bad taste in our mouth from the last game, but we also feel good about moving forward and hopefully getting a good result on Wednesday.”