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Tim Howard’s MNT Roots Trace Back to Ecuador Shutout Win in 2002

The U.S. Men’s National Team is set to host Ecuador on Oct. 10 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, marking the first home appearance post-2014 FIFA World Cup.

It is without question that goalkeeper Tim Howard was the rock star from the USA’s World Cup team, especially after recording a tournament-record 15 saves against Belgium in the knockout stage.

The upcoming USA-Ecuador matchup serves as a time capsule moment of sorts for Howard, seeing as how Ecuador was his first international opponent on March 10, 2002.

Howard earned a clean sheet during his 90-minute debut as the USA defeated Ecuador 1-0 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

Howard made three saves, including a noteworthy first-half stop against Edison Mendez in the 33rd minute. The USA also had to play shorthanded for much of the second half following a Clint Mathis red card in the 58th minute.

“It was a real challenge for our players,” former U.S. head coach Bruce Arena said after the game. “We dealt with a lot of adversity with the red card early in the second half, but I think our team showed a lot of maturity and composure.”

Tim Howard

Howard was playing professionally for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars at the time, and the 23-year-old told the New York Times that he was honored for the opportunity.

“I was a little bit anxious at the beginning, but once I got into it, I felt very comfortable,” Howard said. “I’m very pleased that we were able to get the win, and hopefully I’ll get more opportunities. I just have to keep working hard and keep learning.”

More than 12 years later, Howard is now the USA record holder for goalkeeper wins (55), starts (103), caps (104), and is the most-capped U.S. goalkeeper in the modern era of the FIFA World Cup with eight appearances.

Prior to his MNT debut, Howard was a member of the Youth National Team system, appearing for the U-17, U-20 and U-23 teams, including the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Tim Howard