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Howard Becomes First American to Lift F.A. Cup Trophy

CARDIFF, Wales - U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard became the first American player to lift the F.A. Cup trophy in England on Saturday when his Manchester United team downed Millwall 3-0 in the 123rd edition of the prestigious tournament.

Howard had little to do in the match as the Premier League team completely dominated the upstarts from the First Division. United's goals came from Ronaldo just before halftime and on two second-half strikes from Ruud van Nistelrooy (one on a penalty). The former MetroStars goalkeeper did not earn a complete-game shutout, though, coming out of the match in the 85th minute to allowed back-up Roy Carroll to earn minutes in the final.

Howard's heroics come in a year in which he became the second American to be honored as the PFA Goalkeeper of the Year in the Premier League (his selection coming one season after Brad Friedel was honored for Blackburn).

Prior to Howard lifting the trophy on Saturday, John Harkes had been the only American to play in the F.A. Cup final, seeing his Sheffield Wednesday squad lose to Arsenal back on May 15, 1993, at the old Wembley Stadium (in a full-match replay after the team's had drawn 1-1 in their first meeting).

With the result, Howard ends his storybook season with the world's most famous sports franchise with 16 overall shutouts in 43 starting appearances for Man U. His totals for 2003-04 read as follow: 32 games, 12 shutouts, 0.97 GAA in league play; 7 games, 4 shutouts, 0.71 GAA in Champions League; and 4 games, 0 shutouts, 1.03 GAA in F.A. Cup play.