The USA are out of the World Cup. Despite the millions, billions of people watching, decking out in blue, red, and white, the team was ousted out by a 2-1 score. Granted after they were behind 1-0, I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped watching. The first seventy-five minutes of the game I screamed salty language at my laptop screen (because I do not have the blessings of cable) and shook my fists at various intervals. Thankfully, no one was there to observe my conduct. It wasn’t pretty. Then in the 85th minute I begin to pray “Lord please. . .” I guess I should have asked for forgiveness first, but that didn’t cross my mind as I stared at yet another US pass that had been intercepted by Belgium. I prayed for a miracle (I wonder how many people’s prayers were diverted away from the usual request of safe travels, safe pregnancies, healing, and world peace to the game.) My lips moved with purpose. Please, just this time. Then Belgium scored and I knew it wasn’t meant to be. I was resigned. I went backed to figuring a way around my writer’s block.
Five minutes later I was still thinking about the game. Well mostly about the goalie—Tim Howard. I didn’t know about Tim Howard before the World Cup. I don’t watch a lot of soccer and when I do the goalie is usually the last person’s name I remember. I should though. Probably.
The goalie has the unfortunate job of guarding their team’s turf or net. The net is a huge gigantic space that is framed by three poles. There is net that fills in the back. Basically I believe it is the coach’s opinion to put the tallest, most fearless guy in that space. Even though, soccer players can get some serious penalties for kicking the goalie, it can accidentally happen. While the goalie is on the ground, a stray cleated foot can be deadly. Any way, you have to feel sorry for the goalie. They have got to keep a spinning ball from crashing past the two poles stuck in the ground. If it comes down to a player with the ball and the goalie. . . .The player usually scores. This is why the goalie has little helpers called defenders. If the player happens to get pass the defenders, the goalie does a leap of faith. He has to because he is the only thing standing in the way of victory or defeat.
This was the situation that Tim Howard was in. Not only were the Belgium players like lumbering Goliaths. They knew how to juke and jive too. While a defender was doing the splits, a Belgium red shirt was zipping toward to the goal. They could taste the goal in their mouth, but they forgot about Howard. For ninety minutes, Howard stopped them. Once, twice, five times, sixteen times. He was like a gymnastic player. Leaping. Diving. Spinning. Every leg, arm and even his beard played a roll in blocking of the Belgium attack. It was Oscar worthy. Seriously.
At first I thought it was luck. Then I thought, “Oh he is good.” Then I started shaking my head thinking, “Wow. Unbelievable.” Even Belgium started to get a little bug eyed. The Belgium coach ruffled his finely slicked hair raging at the insanity of it all. Thirty-nine shots and nothing to show for it. In overtime, a goal finally flew by, but not before Howard became a hero. In the waning minutes, Howard was definitely being Googled and Twittered about. Who was this man who didn’t give up even under the barrage? Turns out that Howard has Tourette syndrome and is a Christian. Is that what made him so strong in this game? His faith and previous struggles? The US lost, but it was amazing to watch Howard. You had to see it to believe. If this was the Medieval days, the town folk would be writing ballads about him. Today he could be the spokesman of Nike.
Just Do It. No matter What.
At the end of the game, I read that even the Belgium players shook his hand out of the respect of his goal keeping. More than ever, many are looking up to this goalie. A little kid in some American town is probably drawing a little stick figure guy with a beard. Under the crayon sculpted Howard, is an inscription “I want to be Howard when I grow up.” Is Howard some one the young should look up to? So far from what I have read, Howard has made mistakes and has admitted them, but he seems like a family guy who wants to abide by his faith, play soccer and help others with Tourette syndrome. You can’t argue with that. Justin Bieber should take notes.