U.S. soccer team cautiously optimistic about Tim Howard's health

U.S. coach Bob Bradley is not sure if goalkeeper Tim Howard suffered broken ribs in a collision with England's Emile Heskey during Saturday's opening match in South Africa.
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 14, 2010

IRENE, SOUTH AFRICA -- For weeks ahead of the World Cup, the United States' injury concern centered on defender Oguchi Onyewu and his repaired left knee. In the days leading to the Group C opener against England, it was about forward Jozy Altidore's sprained ankle.

Now, with the Americans preparing for their second match, against group leader Slovenia on Friday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, the health issue involves goalkeeper Tim Howard and his sore ribs.

The day after Howard was injured in the first half of a 1-1 draw with England on Saturday night, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley was cautiously optimistic that his first-choice keeper would be available for the next match.

"When you see the way Timmy handled himself after the collision, you'd certainly expect he will be on the field again," Bradley said.

Howard suffered the injury when forward Emile Heskey slid into him at full force in the 29th minute. He was treated for several minutes and remained in the game but was clearly in discomfort.

After receiving a cortisone shot for the pain at halftime, Howard made several quality saves to help the Americans withstand England's persistent pressure.

Howard was not made available to comment Sunday but said after the match: "We'll see what the doctors say. They might want me to get an MRI [exam]. They don't think it is [broken], but we'll see."

He also said that, at the time of the collision, he was "in agony."

Bradley credited Howard with doing "a great job of taking a tough hit and staying in it and playing really well."

Asked early Sunday if he thought Howard's ribs were fractured, Bradley said he didn't know and that further evaluations had been scheduled.

Later, the U.S. Soccer Federation issued a statement that said: "Tim is currently receiving treatment and our trainers are closely monitoring his progress. He will be evaluated once again in the morning [Monday] to determine if any tests will be required."

Howard had not undergone X-rays or an MRI, the USSF said.

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