Editorial (October 16, 2017) – It’s been a rough year for the Colorado Rapids and their supporters. It’s been a rough week for goalkeeper Tim Howard, who let in two goals that cost the United States Men’s National Team a chance at the 2018 World Cup against Trinidad and Tobago. Howard bounced back on Sunday, helping the Rapids get a 1-0 win in their final home game of the season. But Howard did more than that, and it’s something Rapids fans should check out.
The Tim Howard Pregame Speech Colorado Rapids Fans Need To Know About
It’s no secret that Denver, CO isn’t one of the hippest MLS markets. They don’t have the atmosphere and presence of Cascadia. They’re not breaking attendance records like Atlanta United FC. They’ve got one of the smallest soccer-specific stadiums in the league and selling it out has been difficult in recent years.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t die hard Rapids fans. There are supporters as loud and obsessed as the Timber’s Army members with 30 scarves. Quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive. It’s been a disappointing season for everyone who cares about the Colorado Rapids. Howard stepped up as a leader to tap into that energy and turn it into one last win to give the fans something to be happy about.
And it worked.
“Tim Howard gave a great speech to the players before hand about giving to the fans and about making certain that we honored their loyalty, their patience, and their support,” Rapids Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke said post game.
Howard elaborated on this speech to Last Word on Soccer after the match:
“The message was this: The [Denver] Broncos are playing today, same time as us. It’s been a tough season. Anybody who’s bought a ticket tonight to put a butt in that seat is down with us through thick and thin. It’s Fan Appreciation Night, but they’ve been with us all season. We come in here for a lot of games and we’re heartbroken. We’ve given our all. They come, they pay good money, and give their all, and support us. We’re in this together,” Howard said.
The Pids got a vintage 1-0 home win against their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals, Real Salt Lake. The counter attack created chances, including the only goal. They defended by committee, with the “back six” as Cooke referred to the back four plus Nana Boateng and Mohammed Saeid playing well. RSL out-chanced them big time, but very few of them were truly threatening. When they were threatening, somebody stepped up. On several occasions, that somebody was Tim Howard.
“Tim Howard pulled off three or four saves that were absolutely top level of goalkeeper in the world, not MLS. This is the top level kind of goalkeeper in the world,” Coach Cooke said post game. “A real champion stands up, comes out the next day, and they become the leader for the team. Tim Howard was not going to let Salt Lake score tonight, and he wasn’t going to let us leave here with anything less than three points.”
Cooke went on to say that Howard rebounded tremendously from the events of last Tuesday and his international career deserves to continue, should he be interested.
Say what you will about Howard’s performance against Trinidad and Tobago. Say what you will about the leadership (or lack there of) that he showed. He bounced back on Sunday, on and off the field. He values the Rapids fan base, and used those emotions and the rivalry match up to empower the team and himself.
“It really was a great crowd for this point in the season and for such a tough season,” Howard said. “It was on us to come out fighting,” adding “last home game against our biggest rival. They brought a bunch of fans, thought it was going to be a party. I think that galvanized the team.”
The Rapids have continued to play spoiler towards the end of the season. They now have three straight results against teams that were competing for the playoffs. A win against Montreal Impact effectively sunk their playoff hopes. A draw last week against FC Dallas and this win over RSL has both those teams below the red line heading into Decision Day.
His comments resonated with his teammates. “The people who are at the stadium are the people who really care about the Rapids. They’re really committed so let’s make sure we put on a good show for them,” Eric Miller said of the speech after the match. “We grinded. We got three points. We’re probably going to keep our rival out of the playoffs.”
Maybe Tim Howard doesn’t deserve to ever be called into the USMNT again. Some critics will say he should just retire from playing soccer entirely. On Sunday, he showed he’s still got it, on the field and in the locker room. That’s not to say he’s perfect; he has plenty to work on in the off-season.
Regardless, he showed a connection with the Rapids fan base. He sees what they’re feeling and empathizes. He turned it into a win, a moment of joy, however fleeting and brief. It started with a pregame speech. A speech every Rapids fan needs to know about as this team commits itself to improving next year and fighting for every Rapids fan who would rather watch them than the Broncos.
External media were unable to discuss the United States Men’s National Team with Tim Howard this past week.