Tim Howard had to watch his teammates struggle somewhat in El Salvador without his assistance, but now he has returned from suspension to play.
"He did fine," Howard asserted. "I think Brad is a fantastic goalkeeper. He’s going to be one of the really good ones."
Howard did admit to some feelings of helplessless watching his teammates struggle in the away match in Central America. He was sidelined to yellow-card accumulation.
"It’s frustrating, because I want to see my teammates do well," Howard said. "It’s a different dynamic, when you’re sitting on the bench – to playing."
Though CONCACAF qualifying has traditionally been a difficult task on the road, many believed the U.S. team had improved enough to breeze through after securing an early win versus Mexico in the opening game of the Hexagonal. However, El Salvador proved to be a gritty opponent.
"On the day, it was a tough game for us, because they scored a goal early," Howard pointed out. "We were all pushing forward and getting really spread out and that’s hard."
After serving as the understudy to U.S. veteran keeper Kasey Keller for years, Howard won the starting spot in the nets at thebeginning of coach Bob Bradley's tenure in 2007. He has emerged as one of the leaders of the young team. The current roster in Nashville has an average age of 25. Though considered still young for a goalkeeper, Howard is 30.
"This team is pretty levelheaded," said Howard of how the squad looks to improve from setbacks. "We’re trying to be a mature team and when we go down to a place like El Salvador, we want to make sure we win the game."
Andrea Canales, Goal.com, with reporting from Shane Evans in Nashville, Tennessee.