CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Monday, October 10, 2011
Tim Howard steered the United States to their first victory under Jurgen Klinsmann on Saturday night as they defeated Honduras 1-0.
Clint Dempsey's sterling left footed shot in the first half proved to be the winner, but the hero was Howard, who had a very strong game behind an at-times shaky defense.
The Everton goalkeeper is second behind only Brad Friedel in the number of games an American goalkeeper has played for a single top-tier European team, with over 190 recorded for the Liverpool based outfit. He gave his thoughts about the current camp, noting that with less time together than the previous camp in California, the team had to come together quickly in preparation for the games against Honduras and Ecuador.
"We've put a lot of work in this week but (we) just simply had more days there - We've really peaked this week and trained well, and now it's about recovering and putting things in place."
The quick preparation and integration was especially necessary for newcomer Danny Williams, making his first appearance in a US National Team camp and going on to earn his first cap against Honduras. Howard said that his integration into the team has gone well since the camp began, with Williams' confidence and fellow German-Americans on the team helping him adjust.
"It's been good. When you have a coaching change a lot of new faces come in, so it shouldn't be terribly difficult for those guys. Obviously there's some established faces but the new guys have come in and done well. They're (Williams and Timmy Chandler) both pretty positive, Danny is a pretty confident fellow so they've done well."
Howard further said that the English proficiency of Williams has made his transition easier, being able to fluently communicate with his new teammates, in whichever language the situation calls for, German or English.
"Some of the guys on the team speak German so that's really helped them out. Danny says he's not sure he wants to do press in English, but his English is pretty good. It's easy for him to integrate into the group."
Williams' inclusion made him the fifth German-American to appear in a National Team camp this year, joining Chandler, Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, and David Yelldell. Having a large German-American contingent hasn't been a difficult thing to get used to, as the veterans have welcomed the unique qualities that differing cultures have brought to the team, whether they be German or Hispanic.
"At first it's somewhat funny to have guys - such a large amount of guys - speaking a different language, a lot of Spanish speaking guys on the team and a lot of German speaking guys. Then you kind of get the feeling that it's a really positive thing and it just brings a uniqueness to the squad. And I say that a lot of times you find cliques, and it's not like that. The guys just feel really comfortable speaking a certain language and that's really good."
It's important for the coach to encourage not just team cohesion on the field but also off of it, and Klinsmann has done so. Whether they speak English or another language when they feel they need to, the players have come together to build their chemistry which can only be a big positive in the locker room and during games.
"Obviously Jurgen encourages everyone to integrate, and we do that, but you can see certain guys, they feel really comfortable when they need to communicate and they can do that in a different language and that's a positive thing for us. I think we've all embraced it and enjoy it, and the guys socially have been fantastic."
The victory over Honduras showed that Klinsmann's team is coming together and the integration of his veterans, youngsters, and foreign-born players has been moving along nicely. Chandler and Williams both linked up well with the rest of the squad, with Williams coming tantalizingly close to notching a goal in his first appearance, shooting high over the cross bar off of a nice buildup from Chandler and Brek Shea.
The United States will try to build on the positives from their victory over Honduras and continue a productive integration and development of a new National Team identity on Tuesday against Ecuador at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.