After getting a bit of rest following the U.S.'s loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final, Tim Howard has joined Everton's preseason tour of the states. Though he did so too late to play against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night, he did submit himself to a series of interviews earlier that day and one of them was with me. Here's how it went...
I know you're coming off a break, but did you watch any of the Women's World Cup?
Howard: [laughs] I was like everybody else -- captivated and mesmerized and inspired. They did pretty awesome.
ESPN was talking about the hypothetical of Hope Solo joining MLS. What do you think of that?
Howard: There's certainly not a precedent for it, but, you know, if anyone could do it she probably could. She's a top quality goalkeeper. But I think they have their own and she's doing well over there so, um -- listen, it's not outside the realm of possibility, that's for sure.
Your Allstate ads have been funny (see the newest one here). What's the most random thought you've had while actually playing?
Howard: I can't even begin to tell you some of the outrageous thoughts I have on the field to try and keep myself focused in many different ways. But when you're standing back there for 90 minutes as a goalkeeper, the craziest things go through your head [laughs]. And so some of the AllState commercials aren't terribly far fetched, unfortunately [laughs].
You've been to two cup finals in three years with the U.S. team, but they haven't really gone the way that you would want. What's your evaluation of the team right now?
Howard: Unfortunately when you get to the final you're not always guaranteed to win. You work so hard to get there then -- one goal, one day, one call and it's all finished, you know, and you have to start the hard work over again. That part's never easy, but I think we're doing a really good job. I think at this stage with this group of players and this coaching staff we're playing the best soccer we've played in five years. I think our passing, our movement, our ability to go forward and create chances has been better than it ever has. So I think we're going in the right direction.
What's been the weirdest experience with Premier League supporters that you've had?
Howard: I think for me the weirdest experience is just being when we travel to London on the train and seeing certain supporters sort of walk through our train carriage. We have our own, of course, but sometimes they wander into the wrong one and you just get random conversations with fans before or after the game.
Any in particular that stand out?
Howard: I usually have my headphones on so... [laughs]. I barely look up off my book.
If you had supreme power, what's the first thing you would do to improve the Premier League?
Howard: Probably create a luxury tax. Not that that solves every problem and I'm sure there's others that you can think of, but I think that would help a little bit anyway.
Kinda like baseball then?
Howard: Essentially, yeah. Exactly.
I don't know if you've seen it, but there's a website called EvertonTime.com and it has a running clock that shows that it's been almost two years since Everton bought a player (not including loans, youth players or free transfers).
Howard: No way...
As a player is that frustrating or is that not really something you pay attention to?
Howard: It's something we definitely pay attention to. Of course it's frustrating. I think people at Everton are trying to do the right things -- we all are. Unfortunately, it's not always as easy as that and I know they're trying their best to bring players in and for us as players our job is to keep our head down and try to win games. You know, we don't really have any say over those types of transactions. That's going to be what the manager does and the chairman does. It's always nice to see a fresh face come in and boost the morale of the club. It makes you feel like you're going in the right direction. And I have no doubts that we'll bring a few players in this summer. Our manager's proven in the past that he's shrewd in the transfer market and can work with a small budget. So, again, we're not overly concerned. I understand from a fan's perspective they have that counting clock, but we just have to kind of get on with it and hopefully we've shown that even teams spending £100 million more than us we've shown that we can push them aside and win games.
What's your goal for the new season?
Howard: I think the team goal is certainly always to solidify ourselves in one of the European places and I think we were on the verge of that last year, but we just got there too late. I think if we can, you know, around Christmas time get ourselves into the top six, top seven, then we have a long stretch of season to kind of really kick ourselves up the table and possibly get into the coveted Champions League spot or pull away from some of the other teams behind us, but we need to get to that position earlier in the year.
Any predictions as to who will win the league?
Howard: Uh...tough to say. You know, Manchester United are very formidable. I know they have a few key areas that they needed to replace and only time will tell whether that works or not, but I would never count them out [laughs].
Finally, we had some fun with what you said after the Gold Cup final. Any disgraces that have been grinding your gears lately?
Howard: [forced laugh] No, I mean, listen, that was said at a very emotional time after the game and I've clarified my statements obviously and so at this point it is what it is.
Yeah...well, that I appreciate the time, Tim, and good luck this season.
Howard: Thank you, I appreciate it.
So there you have it. Tim Howard can see Hope Solo playing in MLS one day, he thinks unspeakable things to stay focused during matches, he believes the U.S. is playing the best it has in the last five years, he does his best to ignore chatty strangers on trains. He wants a luxury tax on the Premier League's big spenders, he's frustrated by Everton's lack of purchases, he thinks Man United will win the league and he doesn't want to talk about f***ing disgraces anymore. I'm taking that as him ceding disgrace supremacy back to Didier Drogba.
Thanks to Allstate for setting this up. See Tim talk about how much he likes Pauly D from "Jersey Shore" here.