Tim Howard has been instrumental to the growth of soccer in the United States with his play on the pitch. He will look to make a similar impact off it during the 2014-15 Premier League season and beyond.
According to Joe Prince-Wright of Pro Soccer Talk, the United States men's national team and Everton goalkeeper has agreed to a multiyear contract with NBC Sports to be an EPL analyst.
The 35-year-old star will provide analysis for as many as 10 EPL matches this season, either in the booth during a game or in an on-site studio for pregame, halftime and postgame shows, while also maintaining his position as the Toffees' starting netminder.
Is Tim Howard a smart hire by NBC Sports?
Howard served in a similar capacity for seven matches last season, six in the booth and one in the studio, and NBC Sports Group Premier League coverage coordinating producer Pierre Moossa believes he will continue to provide a fresh take, per NBC Sports' official press release.
"Tim had an impressive debut on our telecasts last season and we are excited to have him join our Premier League team on a more extensive basis," Moossa said. "As an active Premier League player, he contributes unique perspective and insight to our broadcasts."
Richard Buxton of the Football Writers' Association agrees with Moossa's stance and expects Howard to thrive in his role:
On an #EFC related note, Tim Howard has been confirmed as a studio pundit on NBC's Premier League coverage for next season. Great analyser.— Richard Buxton (@RichardBuxton_) July 29, 2014
Howard is one of the Premier League's top goalkeepers, and he is coming off a fine performance for Team USA in the 2014 World Cup. He has become the face of American soccer, so it makes perfect sense for NBC to utilize him in an attempt to increase EPL interest in the United States.
The Premier League seems to be gaining some traction in the USA due to its relationship with NBC, but more trusted and recognizable voices are needed. Howard arguably tops the list as far as American soccer fans are concerned, and he will undoubtedly increase interest even more.
Since Howard is still on top of his game, he is likely to continue playing for the foreseeable future. Whenever he does decide to hang up the cleats, though, he may very well be setting himself up for a full-time job in the broadcast booth or studio should he excel this season.
Howard comes off as a well-spoken, knowledgeable athlete in interviews on a consistent basis, so there is every reason to believe he will be an excellent component of NBC Sports' coverage.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter