Tim Howard

Colorado Rapids 2019 Season Preview by Benjamin Bellman

Folks, this is what a re-build looks like. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park might as well have had a “Pardon Our Dust” sign posted at the ticket office every home match, and the only good thing about the Colorado Rapids’ 2018 season is that it’s over. Still, 2018 was not wasted by the club, with players joining and leaving the roster all year. In many ways, this was the “game” that fans, including myself, have really been paying attention to. Head coach Anthony Hudson and GM Padraig Smith certainly had their work cut out for them a year ago, and it’s clear that this was always going to be a multi-year process, especially given the two bloated Designated Player contracts expiring at the end of 2019.

The Rapids are poised for an interesting 2019 season as the roadies for Tim Howard’s Magical Retirement Tour. They won’t (and shouldn’t!) be on anyone’s playoff prediction lists, but they’ll be a sleeper pick by a couple experts (pump Bobby Warshaw’s takes directly into my veins). Now that seven teams from each conference get a playoff game, Colorado should strive to be in the hunt all year, and given the crapshoot that is MLS, there’s no reason to say they can’t make it. But playoffs or not, Rapids fans would be truly pleased with some wins, some goals, and some talented young players to carry the team into a new decade.

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Techera Scores, Montreal Can't Stop Others from Scoring, and Other LITTLE THINGS FROM WEEK 13 by Harrison Hamm

Cristian Techera at the back post

As coherent and competent as they have looked this year, the New England Revolution returned to their old tropes in Week 13. Their high-flying draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday was a merger of two eras: the Jay Heaps-led, defensive mistake-filled one and the current Brad Friedel one, in which they have found a definite style (the gegenpress!) and are successfully masking their ongoing defensive issues.

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The State of the USMNT Goalkeepers by Bill Reno

The latest drama to break in the American goalkeeping scene was centered squarely on Jesse Gonzalez. After a will-he-won’t-he back and forth that is only rivaled by Pam Beesly and Jim Halpert, Gonzalez has officially tied to the US Men’s National Team. The lovestory dates back to 2015, when he first played for Mexico’s U20s, then received an invite to a USMNT camp, only to drop out of the camp, admitting he was leaning towards Mexico, then ultimately switching to the US last month for his final decision.

It’s been a whirlwind for Gonzalez over the last two years but chances are he isn’t going to be competing for the starting spot until after the 2018 World Cup. Simply with his exclusion from this year’s Gold Cup roster it seems like Gonzalez’s time with the national team will start farther down the line. Hypothetically he could be a Julian Green-esque addition but for a player who has only recently started playing consistently for an MLS side, it’s most likely next cycle. Looking at the rest of the group, only a handful of goalkeepers are truly in the running for a trip to Russia.

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Colorado Rapids 2017 Season Preview by Benjamin Bellman

Apart from the mid-season miracle of Nicholas Lodeiro’s arrival in Seattle, the Colorado Rapids were surely the biggest turnaround in MLS in 2016. Pablo Mastroeni’s first two years as head coach saw the Rapids finishing in 9th and 10th in the Western Conference. But after a flurry of offseason moves, Colorado finished 2nd in the West and league tables, competing with FC Dallas for the Supporter’s Shield until the very last week. New Designated Players Shkelzen Gashi and Tim Howard, and bonus pick up Jermaine Jones, helped cement a team culture and identity consistent with Mastroeni’s reputation of sacrifice and grit, and the Rapids didn't lose at home in 2016 until the Western Conference Championship.

While the Rapids were far more successful than last year, their tactics didn't change dramatically. The 2016 Rapids rank among the best defenses in league history, giving up 32 goals against, fewer than one goal per game. (And consider that five happened all in one game!) A mix of old and new-comers solidified Mastroeni’s vision. Axel Sjoberg earn his place as a finalist for Defender of the Year. Michael Azira, a Sounders cast-off, made a perfect match to Sam Cronin as a pair of dominant defensive midfields also dangerous in springing counter attacks. Offensively, the Rapids capitalized on opponents’ mistakes, quick breaks, and flashes of brilliance from across the roster. Gashi also scored an outrageous number of outrageous goals. Still, the Rapids only produced 39 goals from 37.47 xG (20th in MLS), tying the Dynamo for second-fewest. Yet no team let in fewer goals than the Rapids, who allowed fewer than one per game (32 goals against on 41.91 xGA, 4th in MLS). This team is defined by its defense, and after this offseason it’s clear that won’t change in 2017.

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MLS Goalkeepers: Predictions for the 2016 Season by Bill Reno

It’s March and we all know what that means: every writer across the nation is baking up their hottest takes to ultimately not be held accountable at the end of the season. Well ASA is allowing me to put their upstanding reputation on the line with five predictions for MLS’s gloved men heading into the 2016 season. Make sure to bookmark this post so you can link it to everyone at ASA in eight months and give us a boost in hits come November!

1. Luis Robles and David Ousted will duke it out for Goalkeeper of the Year again - If there’s one thing that has proven consistent with the award, the goalkeeper on the team who wins their conference has a great shot of winning the award. Dating back to when the league split to two conferences, ten of the fourteen years GOTY winners have gone to goalkeepers whose teams finished first in their conference. This means Tim Melia (SKC) and Clint Irwin (Toronto) also have a decent shot but Robles and Ousted are the best bets. It’s a rare sight to see either goalkeeper costing their team points in a game and both of their teams are looking to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield again.

Four more predictions after the jump.

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Guzan v Howard: Battle of the Balds by Bill Reno

Classic USMNT. While the rest of our team is struggling to keep its head above water, we’re overflowing with bald talent at goalkeeper. It’s one position we haven’t had a worry about since before Jimmy Douglas’ first World Cup shutout in 1930 and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. Brad Guzan and Tim Howard fill the depth chart for the Americans and the question of “Who should start?” is as unanswered as a year ago.

Unlike Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel Guzan and Howard seem to actually enjoy playing with each other. There’s nothing wrong with love and even though we’re all glad the animosity between the goalkeepers isn’t DEFCON 5, we’re still not sure who should be in net. Klinsmann has stated multiple times that Guzan is his number one moving forward but after a four goal outing against Brazil for Guzan, Howard may have found his foot in the door.

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Tim Howard's effort against Belgium by Matthias Kullowatz

American goalkeeper Tim Howard had a fantastic game against Belgium on Tuesday. It might have been the game of his life, and Wikipedia fittingly gave him a new job. We don't actually have data for every game he's ever kept, but we can put his performance into some perspective. 

On Tuesday, his Keeper Rating---based off each shot's origin, goalmouth placement, and pattern of play---represented the best single-game performance of any goalkeeper thus far in the tournament. Belgium laid siege on his goal, firing off a tournament-high 39 shots. 17 of those were on frame, also a tournament-high. They probably should have scored four or five goals, but that wasn't going to happen on Howard's watch. The chart below summarizes every game of the tournament to date for each keeper.

Keeper Team Opponent SOT Goals xGoals Rating
T. Howard USA BEL 17 2 4.68 -2.68
V. Enyeama NGA BIH 7 0 2.46 -2.46
A. Dominguez ECU FRA 9 0 2.44 -2.44
G. Ochoa MEX BRA 6 0 2.31 -2.31
D. Benaglio SUI ARG 8 1 2.93 -1.93
F. Dauda GHA POR 7 1 2.46 -1.46
T. Courtois BEL KOR 4 0 1.41 -1.41
C. Bravo CHI ESP 6 0 1.34 -1.34
F. Muslera URU ENG 6 1 2.34 -1.34
D. Ospina COL URU 4 0 1.25 -1.25
Julio Cesar BRA CRO 3 0 1.20 -1.20
S. Romero ARG SUI 4 0 1.17 -1.17
V. Enyeama NGA FRA 5 1 2.06 -1.06
C. Bravo CHI AUS 4 1 2.03 -1.03
K. Navas CRC GRE 8 1 1.95 -0.95
E. Kawashima JPN GRE 4 0 0.95 -0.95
N. Valladares HON FRA 5 2 2.84 -0.84
A. Begovic BIH NGA 9 1 1.80 -0.80
N. Valladares HON SUI 10 3 3.79 -0.79
I. Akinfeev RUS ALG 6 1 1.75 -0.75
T. Courtois BEL USA 5 1 1.74 -0.74
H. Lloris FRA ECU 2 0 0.73 -0.73
Alireza Haghighi IRN NGA 4 0 0.72 -0.72
K. Navas CRC URU 3 1 1.71 -0.71
O. Karnezis GRE JPN 4 0 0.62 -0.62
M. Neuer GER POR 4 0 0.61 -0.61
S. Romero ARG IRN 3 0 0.60 -0.60
S. Sirigu ITA ENG 5 1 1.60 -0.60
D. Benaglio SUI HON 3 0 0.48 -0.48
K. Navas CRC ITA 4 0 0.47 -0.47
G. Ochoa MEX CMR 1 0 0.47 -0.47
C. Bravo CHI BRA 6 1 1.45 -0.45
D. Ospina COL GRE 2 0 0.45 -0.45
T. Courtois BEL RUS 3 0 0.41 -0.41
V. Enyeama NGA ARG 13 3 3.41 -0.41
G. Buffon ITA URU 5 1 1.41 -0.41
Jung Sung-Ryong KOR RUS 5 1 1.41 -0.41
M. Neuer GER ALG 4 1 1.33 -0.33
Julio Cesar BRA MEX 2 0 0.33 -0.33
V. Enyeama NGA IRN 1 0 0.30 -0.30
S. Pletikosa CRO CMR 2 0 0.29 -0.29
D. Ospina COL JPN 7 1 1.29 -0.29
T. Howard USA GER 6 1 1.24 -0.24
J. Cillessen NED AUS 4 2 2.20 -0.20
B. Foster ENG CRC 2 0 0.19 -0.19
J. Cillessen NED ESP 4 1 1.18 -0.18
Beto POR GHA 4 1 1.16 -0.16
K. Navas CRC ENG 1 0 0.16 -0.16
A. Dominguez ECU SUI 6 2 2.14 -0.14
O. Karnezis GRE CIV 4 1 1.14 -0.14
Julio Cesar BRA CHI 2 1 1.14 -0.14
J. Cillessen NED CHI 1 0 0.13 -0.13
Kim Seung-Gyu KOR BEL 5 1 1.12 -0.12
A. Begovic BIH ARG 2 1 1.11 -0.11
H. Lloris FRA NGA 2 0 0.10 -0.10
G. Buffon ITA CRC 5 1 1.07 -0.07
H. Lloris FRA HON 1 0 0.07 -0.07
G. Ochoa MEX NED 4 2 2.07 -0.07
F. Muslera URU ITA 1 0 0.04 -0.04
R. M'Bolhi ALG RUS 4 1 1.04 -0.04
R. M'Bolhi ALG GER 12 2 2.01 -0.01
J. Reina ESP AUS 0 0 0.00 0.00
M. Neuer GER USA 0 0 0.00 0.00
C. Itandje CMR MEX 4 1 0.99 0.01
D. Ospina COL CIV 3 1 0.94 0.06
J. Cillessen NED MEX 5 1 0.92 0.08
I. Akinfeev RUS KOR 5 1 0.87 0.13
S. Romero ARG BIH 6 1 0.86 0.14
Alireza Haghighi IRN ARG 4 1 0.84 0.16
A. Dominguez ECU HON 5 1 0.81 0.19
Julio Cesar BRA CMR 1 1 0.79 0.21
A. Begovic BIH IRN 2 1 0.77 0.23
R. M'Bolhi ALG BEL 7 2 1.74 0.26
T. Howard USA POR 7 2 1.71 0.29
D. Benaglio SUI FRA 12 5 4.70 0.30
B. Barry CIV GRE 5 2 1.69 0.31
T. Howard USA GHA 3 1 0.68 0.32
T. Courtois BEL ALG 1 1 0.61 0.39
D. Benaglio SUI ECU 4 1 0.61 0.39
B. Barry CIV COL 6 2 1.57 0.43
I. Akinfeev RUS BEL 2 1 0.54 0.46
G. Ochoa MEX CRO 2 1 0.54 0.46
B. Barry CIV JPN 2 1 0.53 0.47
I. Casillas ESP CHI 4 2 1.50 0.50
F. Dauda GHA GER 4 2 1.49 0.51
M. Neuer GER GHA 6 2 1.45 0.55
N. Valladares HON ECU 4 2 1.43 0.57
O. Karnezis GRE COL 6 3 2.38 0.62
C. Itandje CMR BRA 10 4 3.32 0.68
C. Bravo CHI NED 4 2 1.28 0.72
S. Romero ARG NGA 3 2 1.24 0.76
O. Karnezis GRE CRC 1 1 0.22 0.78
R. M'Bolhi ALG KOR 3 2 1.06 0.94
E. Kawashima JPN CIV 5 2 1.01 0.99
F. Muslera URU CRC 4 3 2.01 0.99
S. Pletikosa CRO BRA 6 3 1.95 1.05
Rui Patricio POR GER 6 4 2.94 1.06
A. Larsen Kwarasey GHA USA 4 2 0.92 1.08
F. Muslera URU COL 4 2 0.89 1.11
Beto POR USA 4 2 0.85 1.15
J. Hart ENG ITA 3 2 0.79 1.21
S. Pletikosa CRO MEX 4 3 1.74 1.26
I. Casillas ESP NED 10 5 3.59 1.41
Jung Sung-Ryong KOR ALG 5 4 2.58 1.42
H. Lloris FRA SUI 4 2 0.58 1.42
Alireza Haghighi IRN BIH 5 3 1.54 1.46
J. Hart ENG URU 2 2 0.45 1.55
M. Ryan AUS NED 9 3 1.43 1.57
M. Ryan AUS CHI 4 3 1.39 1.61
C. Itandje CMR CRO 9 4 2.38 1.62
M. Ryan AUS ESP 4 3 0.90 2.10
E. Kawashima JPN COL 4 4 1.72 2.28

Tim Howard's odd odyssey against Ghana by Jared Young

The United States match against Ghana felt odd, didn’t it? After years of focus on ball possession the United States could barely string together consecutive passes. After all the worrying about the inexperienced defense, the backline held like a tight string and almost pulled off perfection against an onslaught of attack. But the combination of those two circumstances, coupled with a remarkable early goal by Dempsey led to a very odd night for Tim Howard. Howard actually led the USMNT in touches in the match with 61. A goalkeeper. With touches. So far, the 61 touches leads the World Cup for a goalkeeper. The average has been 32. The second highest was Bravo’s 58 touches during Chile’s 2-0 smashing of Spain. The games were similar in that both Chile and the United States scored first against a team that would ultimately dominate possession. That can and did lead to an odd night for our goalkeeper.

In the Ghana match, Beasley was second to Howard with 60. The 102% ratio of goalkeeper touches to highest player touches is also the highest of the World Cup. But that got me thinking. What is a typical ratio?

I looked at all 20 games of the World Cup played through June 18th. The average ratio was 45% goalkeeper touches to highest player touches. The standard deviation so far is 20%. That puts Tim Howard’s number at 2.8 standard deviations from the mean. Assuming a normal distribution, that implies the goalkeeper should have the most touches on a team just once in 400 games. That’s less often than once per MLS season. So it’s not unheard of, but it’s pretty irregular, and it definitely highlights some of the oddities of the United States win over Ghana; an early goal and a team that fails to keep possession, resulting in a backline and goalkeeper that were very busy.

Taking the touches analysis a bit further, I looked at the influence of certain positions having the most touches. I split the outcomes into games where Goalkeepers or Defenders had the most touches and where Midfielders or Forwards had the most touches. Some interesting things pop out even though the sample size is small.

Leader in Touches Team-Games Goals For Goals Against
GK or D 19 1.37 1.84
Mid or FW 21 1.62 1.19

There is a pretty clear advantage so far when a midfielder or forward leads the team in touches. Certainly there is a cause and effect issue at play here. Is this the result of one team’s dominance over the other, or is it really more important to have the ball at the feet of the attacking players more often?

Of the 20 World Cup matchups thus far, eight of them included one team being led in touches by a defender while the other team was led in touches by a midfielder or forward. In those games, the team which was led in touches by a midfielder or forward produced a record of 5-2-1 (W-D-L).

Again, it’s too early to read too much into this data,  but it will be interesting to follow through the tournament. The data does open up thoughts of tracking where touches are occurring on the pitch and how that might help describe outcomes or predict them.

No matter what, Tim Howard was more involved than any player for the United States on Monday night. Neither he nor the American fans felt comfortable throughout the match, and the touches data justifies that sentiment.

Analysis Evolved Podcast: Episode XXI The One Where We Reflect On Costa Rica and Mexico by Drew Olsen

This was suppose to be a quick 15-to-20-minute podcast that turned into an almost 52-minute single segment ramble about all things US in the past week. It was just Drew and I, covering just about everything conceivable over the course of the loss to Costa Rica on the road to the win in Columbus against Mexico. No spoilers; just have a listen. [audio http://americansocceranalysis.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/asa-episode-xxi.mp3]

*Editors note:

Matthias to Drew by text after CR's second goal: [Howard didn't look ready for that one. I think he could have done more.]

Matthias to Drew by text after CR's third goal: [The defender definitely got beat, but the Costa Rican player didn't even get to the ball until it was 23 yards out. That's Howard's ball. 

Drew on Podcast: "...and Matthias was texting me...Matthias was like 'what's he doing in there? These goals are all his fault.' "

In a private interview with the Matthias, the editor was assured that Matthias never thought the goals were 100% Howard's fault, as Matthias---a student of probability---rarely believes anything is 100%.

Oh, and Drew is a poophead. 


**Editors note part 2:

Matthias edited is the editor of the site, just in case you didn't realize that.