World Cup notebook

Goalkeeper Tim Howard cleared to play for United States vs. Slovenia

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tim Howard, the U.S. World Cup goalkeeper whose ribs were bruised Saturday when an England player slid into him, has been cleared to play against Slovenia on Friday.

"After a physical examination this morning, the medical staff has determined there is no need to conduct additional testing," the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a written statement Monday. "He continues to make substantial improvement and is expected to be available for the match against Slovenia."

Despite initial fears of a fracture, the injury was later deemed not severe enough to require X-rays or an MRI exam.

The injury occurred in the 29th minute when England forward Emile Heskey, attempting to connect with Aaron Lennon's cross from the right flank, went full force with his right foot into the midsection of the outstretched Howard.

The American was treated on the field for several minutes, but despite clear discomfort remained in the game. He received a cortisone shot at halftime before making several outstanding saves to preserve a 1-1 draw in the Group C opener.

Howard won't be made available to comment about his condition until Wednesday.

Lineup changes afoot?

Just because the United States came away with a positive result against England does not necessarily mean Coach Bob Bradley will retain the same starting lineup against Slovenia.

"It's not that automatic," he said.

Midfield changes are quite possible. Maurice Edu or Jose Torres could replace Ricardo Clark in a central role and partner with Michael Bradley. DaMarcus Beasley and Stuart Holden are potential flank entries if Bradley decides to move Clint Dempsey to the front line in place of Robbie Findley.

Forward Edson Buddle is also in the mix after playing 13 minutes against England.

The back line is likely to remain unchanged.

"There is a process coming out of one game, assessing where everyone is physically, trying to project what the next game might look like," Bob Bradley said. "And that usually results in a couple of tough decisions."

Praise from familiar face

Frank Borghi, the U.S. goalkeeper who was part of the 1-0 upset of England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, watched Saturday's match in Fenton, Mo., with former teammate Harry Keough.

Interviewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Borghi, 85, praised Howard's performance and said of England goalie Robert Green's blunder: "He made a boo-boo. He handled that ball badly. He should have caught that ball. I could have made that play." . . .

The U.S. players were given the day off and, after attending a private function at the tony Melrose Arch development in Johannesburg, hosted friends and family at team headquarters at Irene Country Lodge.

Friendly ticket sales swell

Ticket sales for the United States' friendly against Brazil on Aug. 10 at the new Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey have reached 25,000 after just three days of availability, according to game organizers. . . .

Hope Solo, the U.S. women's national team goalkeeper, is in Johannesburg on behalf of 1GOAL, an international education campaign headed by Queen Rania of Jordan. After the WPS's St. Louis Athletica folded last month, Solo moved to the Atlanta Beat, which was not scheduled to play this past weekend.

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