Tim Howard is opening up about what he thought went wrong under former US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and what new manager Bruce Arena can do to fix it.
In a candid interview with USA TODAY, Howard gave a thoughtful critique of Klinsmann's strategy of looking abroad to expand the US national team's player pool.
“I know there were players that came in that it didn’t matter as much to,” Howard said. “If you get enough of those players, one or two can get found out, but if you get enough of those players you lose sight of what you are all about. While it was a good idea in theory, it had its flaws. Bruce will 100 percent get that back."
While some observers and fans took Howard's comments as being directed strictly at dual nationals, the 37-year-old Colorado Rapids goalkeeper told ESPN in a separate interview that that was not the case.
"Some of them are [dual nationals], but I think others are players who have their roots here in America too," said Howard of players who have been on the squad and lacked passion. "It's not exclusive to them because some of our dual nationals have been brilliant. Jermaine Jones has been a rock for our national team. He's been one of the heartbeats. Fabian Johnson has been brilliant for us. So, no, that wasn't aimed at any one person in particular."
Howard also praised Arena's outlook that playing in MLS is no liability for players who want to wear the US shirt.
“I think there has been this rhetoric that has been spewed out over the last couple of years – players have to go to Europe,” Howard told USA TODAY. “If you want to go to Europe that’s fine, but I would guess that come 2018, 80 percent of our roster will be made up of MLS players. It is not about where you play, it is about what you bring to the team and how much you care.”