Over the weekend, the National Soccer Hall of Fame announced the four member Class of 2024, and included was the Secretary of Defense. Goalkeeper Tim Howard led the list of people that were elected to join the Hall, joining executive Francisco Marcos, Paralympic Team captain Josh McKinney, and World Cup champion Tisha Venturini-Hoch. The honorees will be inducted on May 4th at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Selections were made from “Player,” “Builder,” and “Veteran” designations.
This is Howard’s first year of eligibility for selection to the Hall of Fame. He garnered 46 votes from the 48-member Player Voting committee, receiving 95.8% of the ballots. In the “Player” designation, the top two players receiving at least 50% of the votes are admitted.
As one of, if not the, best goalkeepers in American soccer history, Howard is an obvious first-ballot induction. He had a long and illustrious career at the club and international levels, setting new standards at a position at which the bar was already high. His success is credited to a combination of fantastic athletic ability and tireless work ethic.
Beginning his career with the North Jersey Imperials of the USISL while still in high school, Howard next signed with the MetroStars in Major League Soccer. Following several years of development, he claimed the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award for the 2001 season. After earning Best XI honors in 2002 for a second time, serious transfer interest began building.
Howard moved abroad, joining Manchester United and winning an FA Cup, League Cup, and Community Shield while also being named to the PFA Team of the Year for the 2003-04 season. He then joined Everton, spending ten years at Goodison Park. Described as a “Blues favourite,” his tenure pushed him to 14th on the club’s list of all-time appearances. His club career concluded with stints at the Colorado Rapids in MLS and USL Championship side Memphis 901.
After reaching the Round of 16 with the U-20 team at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship and being included on the roster for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Howard made his senior international debut in 2002, eventually setting program records for starts and wins. Initially a backup, he took over the number-one role in 2007, claiming two CONCACAF Gold Cup titles, finishing runners-up at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup with Golden Glove honors, being named CONCACAF Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year three times, and starting at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, the latter of which would serve as the stage for his finest performance.
True to the aphorism about goalkeepers often enjoying success at later ages than field players, Howard’s best moment came in the Round of 16 in Brazil. He stood on his head to make a tournament-record 16 saves, pushing Belgium to the brink before falling, 2-1, in extra time. His “herculean” and superlative efforts in the loss earned him the nickname of the “Secretary of Defense” and legions of fans worldwide.
Howard currently serves as the sporting director and part-owner of Memphis 901 while also working as a commentator on NBC Sports, being informed of his induction during a recent broadcast. “When you play football, you try and play for the love and play for the glory and hopefully along the way you do some things,” said Howard. “I’m very nervous at the moment. That’s really incredible.”
The National Soccer Hall of Fame was previously based in Oneonta, New York from 1979 through 2010. After a seven-year journey in the wilderness, the institution was moved to Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, home to MLS club FC Dallas. The facility features “interactive exhibits, iconic soccer memorabilia, and serves as the home for induction ceremonies annually.”
Congratulations to Tim and all of the inductees!