I'm getting old - Tim Howard
SAN JOSE, California (AP):
As his United States teammates trained under cloudy skies on a brisk Bay Area morning, Tim Howard sat stretching on the sideline.
He loosened up his shoulders. He balanced on his left leg and worked his hips.
This is the new normal for Howard, fresh off his 38th birthday and a November surgery on his right thigh to repair the adductor muscle.
"I'm old," chuckled Howard, the Americans' top goalkeeper for the past two World Cups.
"That's every day for me now, between now and the next three years, that's what every day looks like. It's a process, but hopefully it'll pay off."
Howard is expected to start for coach Bruce Arena in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Honduras at Avaya Stadium, home of the MLS San Jose Earthquakes, before the Americans play at Panama four days later.
"It's good to have him back," defender DaMarcus Beasley said Monday. "He's been a big part of this team for a long time now. Big games, World Cups, qualifiers. To have him back with the team and the group is a big plus for us and for everybody to see him back, especially after the injury he had at the end of last season."
Brad Guzan, who was chosen as the starter for last year's Copa America and then called to sub for an injured Howard in the 40th minute of the first US World Cup qualifying loss to Mexico, was replaced last week for family reasons
Howard is confident kicking with his right foot again but he notes, "Thankfully, I have half a decent left foot", when he needs to use it.
The US are 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time, and Arena returned to coach the team 10 years after his firing. He was re-hired in November to replace Jurgen Klinsmann on the heels of those two defeats - 2-1 to El Tri at home and 4-0 at Costa Rica.
Arena will be cautious with Howard as well as Clint Dempsey , who is back playing after dealing with an irregular heartbeat.