New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – US goalkeeper Tim Howard said developing American soccer is not a part of a player’s job, saying fans will help the sport grow with their support.
“I suppose it’s talked about in that context where it is on our shoulders to grow the sport. We go out and play a beautiful game — or at least we try to — and the supporters are either attracted to that or not,” Howard said.
“The numbers have been staggering — people want to watch. That’s all we have to do. Go out there and try to win. America loves winners, we know that. So if we can keep winning and keep playing well, the rest of it will take care of itself,” he added.
Howard recorded 16 saves in the Americans’ 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium Tuesday, the most in a World Cup game in the past 50 years but his efforts weren’t enough to lift the US through to the quarterfinals.
“We’re getting closer. It takes time, some of these countries have been playing the game 100 years longer than we have. We need to keep producing young talent, clearly we’ve shown we can,” the 35-year-old Everton goalkeeper said.
The Americans advanced from a difficult group that included Germany, Portugal and Ghana to reach the knockout rounds of consecutive World Cups for the first time.
Four years ago, the Americans were also eliminated 2-1 in the round of 16, with the winning goal coming in the third minute of extra time against Ghana.
Although the team has been eliminated in Brazil, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he believes the future is bright for U.S. Soccer.
“The talent gap is difficult to discuss,” Klinsmann said. “We’ve done well to recruit a lot of good talents and we need to have those competitions to make them grow. They fly home in a couple of days and will realize this is beyond their limits.”
Veteran Landon Donovan, who was left off this 2014 team, said the United States still has far to go.
“The effort and the attitude and the way the team battled was admirable. But as far as just the pure soccer there were other teams that were ahead of us in that way,” Donovan said, adding that Klinsmann needs to develop leaders.