President Barack Obama kicked off his weekly address to the nation Friday morning with a few words for Tim Howard and the U.S. men's national soccer team.
According to Jonathan Topaz of Politico, the president's opening statement congratulated the team for its strong showing at the 2014 World Cup.
"I want to begin today by saying a special word to the U.S. men's soccer team, who represented America so well the past few weeks," Obama said. "We are so proud of you. You've got a lot of new believers."
President Obama went on to single out Howard, whose 16 saves in the USMNT's loss to Belgium set a new World Cup record. The president claimed he was abreast of the mounting "We the People" petitions on the White House website asking for the Obama administration to bestow various honors on the U.S. keeper.
"I know there's actually a petition on the White House website to make Tim Howard the next secretary of defense. Chuck Hagel's got that spot right now, but if there is a vacancy, I'll think about it," Obama said.
The president may not know it, but there are actually two White House petitions involving Howard currently collecting signatures. The second petition, also filed after Howard's performance against Belgium, is asking the government to rename Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport as "Tim Howard National Airport."
President Obama's remarks come on the heels of a phone call made to Howard and USMNT captain Clint Dempsey earlier this week.
Speaking from the Oval Office, the president congratulated Howard, Dempsey and the team for putting their best foot forward in Brazil and capturing the hearts and minds of American citizens with their play.
Recognizing the USMNT is a kind and telling gesture on the president's part. A new American hero was born this week, and President Obama's continued congratulations of Tim Howard and the U.S. team is a clear indication of soccer's growing roots in America.
The sport receives a predictable uptick in interest in America every World Cup, but each time the mania appears to reach new heights. The 2014 U.S. team, injured and road-weary, still managed to put on a show capable of grabbing a nation by the eyeballs, and it was enough to make one of the busiest leaders in the world take notice.
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