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Soccer: Howard earns respect

By Andrew Dampf
Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG ó For 45 minutes, it was no contest. United States goalkeeper Tim Howard was outplaying Brazil’s Julio Cesar, considered by many to be among the world’s best.
Then the second half started, and the United States’ two-goal lead turned into a 3-2 loss in Sunday’s Confederations Cup final.
Howard was brilliant in the first half, but Brazil’s powerful offense staged a relentless assault on him for the entire second half, capping the comeback with Lucio’s game-winning goal in the 84th minute.
“I felt like I was on a lot of the game,” Howard said. “They created a lot of chances and eventually the dam broke. I can’t get my big behind in the way of everything, unfortunately.
“It’s amazing how off-balance they put you. You have no idea what they’re going to do until they do it, then you react. That’s why they are who they are. All of their players are world-class.”
Still, Howard beat out the likes of Julio Cesar, Spain’s Iker Casillas and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon for the tournament’s best goalkeeper award. He attributed that to the Americans’ opponents ó Brazil (twice), Spain, Italy and Egypt.
“We faced a lot of shots and a lot of pressure,” he said. “I think if you look at the run that we had, nobody had a tougher challenge all the way through.”
But few gave a better effort than Howard. He was not responsible for any of Brazil’s goals, and he made five saves to Julio Cesar’s zero in the first half.
The five-time world champions’ class was evident as soon as the second half began. Not even a minute in, Luis Fabiano beat Howard.
Luis Fabiano notched his second goal in the 74th minute to even the score at 2-2.
Clint Dempsey lost sight of Lucio in the 84th minute, and the defender headed home the winner.
As Brazil jumped for joy at the final whistle, Howard stood with his hands on his knees and watched with envy.
“I think we gave them everything they could handle,” he said. “You saw that in their sheer joy for coming from behind, so that obviously meant something. This one hurts more than most. As a goalkeeper you try to save as many shots as you can and hope that at the end of the night it adds up, and tonight it didn’t.”

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