MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Things are a little different for Tim Howard these days. One thing, however, that remains unshakable, and will likely do so until the end of his career, is Howard’s refusal to accept less than maximum commitment, from both himself and his colleagues. Which is why, in an interview on a sunny Tuesday, overlooking a picturesque golf course, Howard spoke about the recent troubles of the United States national team with as much fire and conviction as if he’d just stepped from the field. For the veteran goalkeeper, even more troubling than a pair of November defeats to begin the final stage of World Cup qualifying, was the growing sense that under former head coach Jurgen Klinsmann a group of players had allowed their pride in representing their country to slip.
When a non-participating human person runs onto the field during a soccer game, it can be quite frustrating. It causes a break in play, the TV cameras are obliged to cut away to deny the attention-seeker the one thing they desire and the local police’s jail cells get one extra inhabitant that night. During Pachuca’s Liga MX clash with Chiapas over the weekend, zoological history was made when two different animal species invaded the pitch in the space of a single half!
Early in the morning on December 27, the day after watching his team lose 4–1 at home to West Ham, Bob Bradley went back to work at Swansea City’s Fairwood headquarters in South Wales. The American coach took a training session with the players who hadn’t competed on December 26, rewatched their defeat to West Ham and prepared for the next game against Bournemouth, before heading home at 5:45 p.m. Swansea Chairman Huw Jenkins wanted to meet at the club’s academy. A half hour later, Jenkins greeted Bradley in the main conference room at Fairwood, where, in a 15-minute meeting, he asked Bradley to step down, offering little explanation besides noting that he had “come to Swansea at a difficult time.” Bradley told him it was the wrong decision but the two men shook hands and parted ways.