Everton Keeper Tim Howard's Top 10 USMNT Moments

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2014

Everton Keeper Tim Howard's Top 10 USMNT Moments

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    Tim Howard is without a doubt one of the most successful and storied players in United States soccer history. For many, he is considered the best to ever play his position.

    At 35 years old, Howard's career should be slowing down to a close. However, the U.S. keeper is finding the best form of his career and leaves reason to believe that his wonderful international career is far from over.

    With the 2014 World Cup in full swing, now seems as good a time as ever to take a look back at the keeper's wonderful international career with America.

    In this article, we will be looking at Howard's top 10 moments with the USMNT. Feel free to get involved in the discussion below, and let us know what you think his most memorable moment has been so far.

Tim Howard's Debut in 2002

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    That glorious beard wasn't always there. As hard as it is to imagine, Howard was, at one point, a young kid just looking to take his shot on the international stage.

    Howard made his international debut back in March 2002 when the United States took on Ecuador. The United States won the match 1-0 for the keeper to begin his international career with a nice shutout.

    At the time, no one understood just how important Howard's debut would be. The world could see just how much talent the keeper had, but that night in 2002 began something beautiful.

1st World Cup Appearance in 2006

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    GERRY BROOME/Associated Press

    After making his debut in 2002, Howard had to wait a while before earning a regular place in the U.S. team. However, his time had come when the 2006 World Cup rolled around.

    Howard was named to the U.S. roster and featured as Kasey Keller's backup throughout the tournament.

    America did not make it out of the group stage, and Howard never saw the pitch, but being taken to the World Cup was already a huge feat for the keeper.

    Howard is currently playing in his third World Cup. His work rate in 2006 is what got him to this point and he was quickly made the team's starter shortly after.

Winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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    As stated in the last side, Howard was given the starting role not too long after the 2006 World Cup. Taking over for the great Keller meant that there would be big gloves to fill, and Howard did not disappoint.

    In 2007, the United States met rivals Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, and Howard was put on center stage.

    After Mexico took an early lead in the first half, America stormed back to score two goals to win 2-1 and lift the title for the second straight time. For Howard, it was the first major international trophy under his belt, but more importantly, the world got to see just how much of a leader he already was.

Beating Spain 2-0 in the 2009 Confederations Cup

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    When the United States met Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup, no one could have guessed what was going to happen. Spain were fresh off of their EURO 2008 title and were seen as the best team on earth.

    On paper, Spain should have had a relatively easy time before trotting to the finals against Brazil. But Howard and Co. had something to say about that.

    Howard made several very impressive saves during the match to keep a clean sheet while his teammates put two goals past Spain's Iker Casillas. America won 2-0 to not only go to the finals but also to stun the entire footballing world.

    The U.S. would eventually lose 3-2 to Brazil in the final, but nothing could take the joy of beating Spain away.

Tim Howard's Stunning Performances in the 2010 World Cup

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    The 2010 World Cup soon arrived, and Howard was clearly the vocal leader of the United States team. Expected to challenge for the second spot in the group, America shocked quite a few people to top Group C.

    In the opening match against England, Steven Gerrard netted in the fourth minute to take a 1-0 lead before the U.S. fired back to level the score before the break. Howard then made countless big stops to keep the English at bay, earning a draw for the Americans.

    It was one of his finest performances to date and a real hero's effort. 

    The second match saw the United States draw again, finishing 2-2 against Slovenia before defeating Algeria 1-0 on top of a clean sheet by Howard.

    America had topped the group, and Howard was the hero. It was truly a masterful World Cup performance and one that U.S. fans will never forget.

Drawing 1-1 Against Lionel Messi's Argentina in 2011

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    Facing one of the greatest players of all time is no easy task. Yet, that is exactly what Howard did when the U.S. took on Lionel Messi and Argentina back in 2011.

    Argentina had a long night dealing with Howard who made save after save. Finally, the South Americans were able to find the back of the net when Esteban Cambiasso pounced on a rebounded shot from Messi.

    Juan Agudelo equalized in the second half, and Howard kept the Argentines from finding another goal. It was yet another stellar night from America's No. 1 as he showed again that he really is one of the best at his position.

'Dos a Cero' to Earn a 2014 World Cup Berth

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    America has a rich history of "Dos a Cero," but none may be as thrilling as the latest installment.

    In September 2013, the U.S. met rivals Mexico in Columbus, Ohio with a trip to the 2014 World Cup on the line. Goals from Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson gave the U.S. a 2-0 victory over Mexico for the fourth time in World Cup qualifying.

    For Howard, it was yet another important clean sheet in a storied career. He was on his game as usual and left Mexico stifled in attack.

    The win, along with a draw between Panama and Honduras, handed America their ticket to the World Cup in Brazil.

Winning the 2013 Gold Cup

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    After winning the 2007 Gold Cup, Howard and the U.S. had to sit back and watch as Mexico claimed the title two consecutive times. In 2013, America was determined to not let that happen again.

    The U.S. made it all the way to the final, but they did not meet Mexico. Instead, Panama was the rival after beating El Tri. America would claim that Gold Cup once again.

    Brek Shea scored America's lone goal to win the match 1-0. This time, Tim Howard watched as teammate Nick Rimando played in goal to secure the clean sheet.

    It was Howard's second Gold Cup, coming at a very important time in U.S. soccer. Yet, the most important thing is that it may not even be his last. Though he didn't play the final, Howard still had a lot to do with winning the title.

Earning His 100th Cap

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    Earning 100 caps is a historic mark for any player. After over a decade of action with the USMNT, that is exactly what Howard achieved just a few weeks ago.

    It was America's last friendly before boarding the plane for Brazil, and in a way, it was a match to celebrate Howard. The keeper had officially made his 100th appearance with the national team, and the fans were there to sing his praises all night.

    Just to ensure the night ended on a great note, the U.S. won 2-1 thanks to a brace from striker Jozy Altidore.

    Howard became just the 15th American to reach the 100-cap mark, via Allen Ramsey of Goal.com.

Beating Ghana 2-1 in the 2014 World Cup Opener

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    America are in the Group of Death, and the difficulty of their opening game against Ghana showed just how tough escaping to the next round will be.

    After Clint Dempsey opened up the scoring early, Ghana took a commanding hold of the game. Despite letting their opponents equalize, the U.S. defense put in a wonderful performance.

    The American side defended as a unit and refused to let Ghana have their way in the final third. Throughout the match, Howard could be seen screaming at his defense and leading every move.

    John Brooks headed home the winner for the Yanks late in the second half, but if not for Howard's leadership, the game could have ended differently.

    Now, the USMNT faces a tough test against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. A win would likely see the Americans escape the group, and there is reason to believe that it can be done.

    Howard has already toppled the likes of Spain and Messi in his wonderful career, and a big match against Portugal would be just another historic stepping stone for the U.S. keeper.

    What has been Howard's most memorable U.S. moment thus far? Is there anything we missed? Leave your thoughts and comments below!