Though he wasn't able to keep his team alive in the World Cup, United States goalkeeper Tim Howard exited the tournament with an impressive place in the record books. His 16 saves in a 2-1 loss to Belgium were the most by any player in a World Cup game over the last 50 years, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Participating in the knockout stages in consecutive World Cups for the first time, the Americans more than had their hands full against a Belgium side loaded with top-flight talent. It was the Belgians who appeared to draw their players from a population of more than 300 million, while the Americans looked like the side picking from a nation of less than 12 million citizens.
Belgium had a number of excellent chances throughout the match yet couldn't slip anything past Howard until the contest went to extra time knotted at nil-nil. While the sheer quantity of his saves was impressive, the quality was equally remarkable. There were, of course, a few easy saves mixed in, but he thwarted at least three one-on-one opportunities, while stopping approximately seven or eight more from dangerous positions.
The match easily could have been a 3-0 or 4-0 drubbing, and the rest of the United States team really deserved no better. However, the long-time Everton keeper allowed no such deficit to happen, keeping his team in a game in which the Belgians attempted a whopping 38 shots.
Ultimately, Howard's mortality was proven, as the Belgians slipped in a pair of goals that were essentially unstoppable. Despite seeing his tournament come to an end, he was named by FIFA as Man of the Match, after recording the highest confirmed saves total in World Cup history.
Already 35 years old, Howard has been written off by many as a feasible option for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. While it may be unlikely, the veteran keeper seems to age like a fine wine, and there's no denying his leadership. Even if he no longer has the reflexes to serve as the team's top netminder, there just might be a spot on the roster for Mr. Howard in 2018.
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