Tim Howard Makes Media Rounds Despite U.S. Loss As Outlets Capitalize On WC Buzz
U.S. G Tim Howard was seemingly on every TV channel and national radio show this morning following the men's national team's 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time last night and subsequent exit from the World Cup, and the media coverage was part of an organized strategy by the U.S. Soccer Federation to capitalize on the attention the event has drawn domestically. Howard, who set a World Cup record with 16 saves in the game, appeared on ABC's "GMA," NBC's "Today," "CBS This Morning," CNN's "New Day," MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Fox News' "Fox & Friends," ESPN's "SportsCenter" and HLN, and was interviewed on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" and Fox Sports Radio's "The Dan Patrick Show." USSF Senior Manager of Communications Neil Buethe in an e-mail said the organization had been in talks with various outlets in advance of each game the U.S. played in the tournament to prepare for the morning-after media hits. Howard prior to last night's game was not specifically slated to make the numerous appearances, as Buethe noted the USSF made that decision "subject to the result and performance" of each game. However, following his record-setting performance, Buethe said Howard "was obviously a no-brainer in this instance." "Tim is a pro," Buethe said, and while last night was a "heartbreaking loss, he understands the value and importance to talk with media and fans in these moments" (Rick Ellington, Managing Editor).
GROWING THE PRODUCT: One of the themes Howard returned to again and again during his interviews today was the effort to sustain the momentum that this World Cup run has given soccer in the U.S. He said the number of people watching the U.S. matches was "staggering." Howard: "Not only the television numbers, which are obvious, but in the parks and the bars and everywhere in between. It was incredible to see. We were motivated by that and inspired by that. We saw all the videos and the highlights of our fans and it was special to be a part of that" ("Today," NBC, 7/2). Howard added with all the "fans created over the last month, we can sustain that push forward." He said, "As once a young kid who loved the sport and couldn't find anything on television, we've come a pretty long way" ("CBS This Morning," 7/2). He acknowledged because of the "enormity of the World Cup," it may be hard to sustain the excitement fans have for the game "day-to-day, but we should be proud of ourselves as a country." Howard: "I think we can sustain it, it's just difficult in our country with so many sports" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 7/2). However, he said the fact the U.S. was responsible for buying the highest number of tickets to World Cup matches outside of host country Brazil "really says a lot about where soccer has come in our country." Howard: "It's exciting to see what the future holds, because this is still a very young and exciting team with a lot to offer" ("GMA," ABC, 7/2).
SOCIAL MEDIA PHENOMENON: ABC's Amy Robach told Howard this morning he "almost single-handedly broke Twitter” during last night's game, as there were 1.8 million Twitter mentions “of you alone" ("GMA," ABC, 7/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sarah Marshall noted a large portion of those came from the hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave, in which people have wondered "whether his goalkeeping skills could be put to different uses." Some of the things Howard "could save included 'Betamax,' 'Nemo’s mum' and 'Private Ryan'" (WSJ.com, 7/2). The Washington Post and Time.com also have some of their favorite images as part of the hashtag.