USA goalkeeper Tim Howard has told FIFA.com that he believes that his England counterpart Robert Green is good enough to bounce back from the mistake that caused a goal and ultimately cost his side two points in the Group C encounter between the two sides.
During his time playing in England, Howard has seen the 30-year-old’s career blossom for Norwich City and West Ham United to ultimately become England's first-choice goalkeeper here at South Africa 2010. However, just as David Seaman and David James made high-profile mistakes between the sticks for the Three Lions, so did Green on his debut appearance in the FIFA World Cup™ finals.
The Everton goalkeeper admitted that he had "mixed emotions" when he saw Clint Dempsey's 40th-minute strike hit the back of the net, as he knew how his fellow custodian would be feeling. "He'll bounce back from that, he's good enough," he said. "I really felt for him tonight and I did have mixed emotions when the goal went in. It's never good to see and there's nothing you can say or do to make him feel better.
"But he's got broad shoulders, you have to as a goalkeeper. You've got to understand the criticism and the highs and lows and I think he'll be fine. Aside from the mistake, he played well, pulled off a really big save from Jozy [Altidore]. I thought that was going to be the goal that put us over the edge."
I really felt for him tonight and I did have mixed emotions when the goal went in. It’s never good to see and there’s nothing you can say or do to make him feel better.
Howard admitted that meeting the England in Rustenburg was "special" but took more pleasure in the point and the performance than the occasion. "It was a very good start to the World Cup for us," he smiled. "The draw sets us up well to go through the group. But we've still got two big games ahead of us. I thought we played well. We were resilient and stuck to our guns. We didn't like giving up the early goal, but we fought, scrapped and clawed our way back into the game. In the first ten minutes we weren't very good. We were jittery, we were nervous and it showed in our play – in the balls we gave away and in the goal we gave away. Once we calmed down we were much better."
Howard almost had to leave the field following a clash with Emile Heskey, which left USA's No1 needing a spell of prolonged treatment. At present, it is unclear whether he is a doubt for the Stars and Stripes' next game against Slovenia at Ellis Park, but knowing the New Jersey native, if there is a chance to play, he will surely grasp it with both hands.
"The ribs are sore," he admitted. "I was going to try and give myself another ten minutes and carry on to half-time, but also I didn't want to be stupid and carry on if I wasn't fit enough. Sometimes I'm hard-headed that way! But the adrenaline kicked back in, the pain meds kicked in and I got through it. I was glad I did."