In news that is just terrible for Tim Howard, if not for Everton and U.S. Men’s National Team, it’s being reported that Howard has fractured several bones in his back. It’s apparently not serious but enough to knock him out for at least four weeks, and his return depends more on pain thresholds than it does on threats to his back or spine. In any case, this of course throws a wrench in Everton’s designs on a top-four finish, but that’s as much as I’m going to say on that score. I don’t ever want to overtake or defeat an opponent through due to injuries; I want to beat teams at full-strength. At a minimum, no one can then say we didn’t “really” win because so-and-so wasn’t available blah blah blah. At a higher level, wishing harm on an opponent might be good for idle trash-talk but should certainly not become strategy. It’s probably to blame in no small part for Everton’s surprising 3-0 loss to Wigan in their FA Cup match. However, Tim doesn’t score goals, so his absence really only offers an explanation for part of that score. With their loss, our match with the Toffees is now set for April 16th, right around the time that Howard might be available to return.
As an American, I pray for his speedy recovery. I’m proud and excited to see our boys making news in European soccer, whether it was John Harkes joining Sheffield Wednesday in the 1990’s, Jozy Altidore scoring his 24th European goal this year, or Clint Dempsey moving to a bigger club (yes, even though it’s Spurs, it matters to this writer. Would I like to see him at Arsenal? Sure. For now, I have to content myself with progress in any form it takes). It’s a been a long, slow climb for true football to gain traction in the United States, and I’m excited any time I see one of us making some noise where the sport really matters. I don’t think we’re ready to claim a spot among the big boys; instead, I think we have to spend a lot more time paying dues so that, if we ever do achieve something, we’ll know we’ve earned it without having to worry that we seem like, well, American tourists or something. As exciting as it is to have former Gunners like Ljungberg or Henry come to the States to play in our league, we’re still very much a second- or third-tier league, if that, and I know full-well that these and other chaps come to MLS because they’ve lost a step but can still run circles around our talent. We’ll get to a point someday when we produce a player good enough to put on an Arsenal jersey, and that will be a proud day for me indeed.
In more-immediate news, there are only two matches that concern us in any way–Spurs at Liverpool, and Chelsea at Man U for their FA Cup match. I’ll be hoping for a tie in the first (more on that later) and for a Chelsea victory in the second. You gotta pick your poisons, and spite might be a bitter draught, but I’d love nothing more than for Man U to crash out of two cups in one week and for Chelsea to keep slogging through a congested schedule. Still lots of time for thumb-twiddlin’ as regards Arsenal matches, though. Sigh…
If ManUre loses tomorrow be prepared to read that bombing out of two cups in a week was a brilliant strategic move by Sir Alex to assure that they win the league. Gag.Sorry about Tim Howard though. It will make the Costa Rica and Mexico qualification matches that much harder. Guzan is good but not as good as Howard.
Sorry, simpleDon. I accidentally deleted your comment and then had to re-post. You're darn right; they'll find a way to spin a Man U loss as brilliant Fergosian strategy.