Tim Howard says blame for USMNT's failure lies squarely on the players

Tim Howard - US national team

LOS ANGELES -- The US national team's failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup isn't about a loss in Trinidad, said legendary goalkeeper Tim Howard on Saturday morning at Major League Soccer's annual media day.

“It's never down to one game,” Howard said. “We didn't get the results over the course of 10 games. The Mexico game, we lost, 2-1, in Columbus. We needed one goal or to not concede one goal. The draw in Honduras. A few other games in there. Any game we lost by one or drew, all we needed over 10 games was one goal.

“I wouldn't say the [problems are] systemic in any way. CONCACAF teams are getting better. No matter how good or bad you are, if you don't get results, you don't qualify.”

Howard said the switch midway through the qualifying cycle from Jurgen Klinsmann to Bruce Arena made things tougher, as any managerial swap would, but that “Bruce Arena did everything in his power to get us qualified.”

“We were behind the 8-ball after the first two games,” he said. “I don't think [not qualifying] is on Jurgen's or Bruce Arena's shoulders. It's on the players.”

The Colorado Rapids netminder said he had no problem with New York Red Bulls fans railing against Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore during the playoff series against Toronto FC -- “They want to blame Michael, Jozy, anyone else, they're entitled to that” -- but that he was pleased with one aspect of how Bradley and Altidore responded.

“[They] showed just how important those [fans'] comments were,” he said. “They meant nothing. They blazed through the playoffs and won the trophy.”

Howard says his career will be over in two years, so “whatever happens between now and then will happen” in terms of his international career. He thinks the US pool is strong and the country is producing good players, but that the national team is at something of a standstill right now.

“Right now, nothing means a whole lot, in terms of rosters and January camps anf games,” he said. “We need to elect a president and hire a coach before we can tell anything meaningful in regards to U.S. Soccer. Everything from when we got on the plane in Trinidad to come home until we hire a [full-time] coach is mundane and meaningless.”