Tim Howard

Obstacles for Tim Howard to return to Brazil for Olympics

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If U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard makes his fourth World Cup team in 2018, he will be the oldest American World Cup player (at 39, by two years) since the U.S. returned to the tournament in 1990 for the first time in 40 years.

But what about 2016? Howard back in Brazil for the Rio Olympics would be intriguing, but the prospect faces hurdles.

In 2000, Howard made his only U.S. Olympic Team but did not play as a backup to Brad Friedel. The U.S. finished fourth.

Ever since, Howard’s age limited his Olympic chances. Olympic men’s soccer rosters are made up of players under 23 years old, with three exceptions per nation.

Recent Games have seen stars among those exceptions — Andrea Pirlo in 2004, Javier Mascherano and Ronaldinho in 2008 and Ryan Giggs and Luis Suarez in 2012.

Another obstacle is qualification. The U.S. cruelly missed the 2012 Olympics, giving up a stoppage-time goal in CONCACAF qualifying to El Salvador when it was seconds away from advancing to a winner-goes-to-London game.

Another issue is the Copa America Centenario in 2016, which runs June 3-26. The 2016 Olympics are Aug. 5-21, creating a possible scheduling conflict.

Copa America, which crowns South America’s soccer champion but also invites two non-South American nations, is traditionally not held in Olympic years. But CONMEBOL wanted to celebrate its 100-year anniversary by holding a special tournament in 2016.

So special that it’s allowing a non-South American host for the first time. That host is the United States, as if the U.S. Men’s National Team needed any more incentive to field its best possible squad.

Howard’s age, U.S. qualification and a crammed schedule aside, he does have domestic goalie competition in his favor.

His World Cup backup, Brad Guzan, already got his Olympic experience playing in 2008.

The third U.S. keeper at the Brazil World Cup, Nick Rimando, is only three months younger than Howard and therefore less likely to be near Howard’s form two years from now.

The top two goalies from 2012 qualification, Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson, were big reasons why the U.S. failed to make the Olympics for the second time since 1976.

While three overage players are allowed at the Olympics, the qualification rosters must be all U23s. Should the U.S. qualify for 2016 with a strong U23 goalie effort, it might be tough to bench him for a player who did not help the nation qualify. And what would the purpose be of using one of those three overage roster spots on a backup goalie?

There’s plenty of time for changes, though. We won’t know if the U.S. will qualify for Rio de Janeiro and, if it does, the final makeup of the Olympic roster until 2016.

Photos: World Cup stars who played in Olympics

PyeongChang late night roundup

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Last night belonged to the U.S. women’s hockey team. In the unlikely event that you slept through the game, the USA defeated Canada in a mesmerizing 3-2 shootout to win the USA’s first Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey since 1998.

It was Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson who gave the United States the go-ahead goal in the sixth shootout attempt, and it was Rooney’s block that sealed the victory for the Americans.

That wasn’t the only key event tonight, though. Mikaela Shiffrin got back on the podium in the women’s combined, while Lindsey Vonn posted a DNF in the second run.

Continue reading below to catch up on all the action from PyeongChang.


Hockey: USA win gold, def. CAN 3-2 (SO)

This victory was decades in the making. After narrowly losing to Canada in Olympic finals before, the Americans were finally able to win the gold medal.

The game proved to be a hotly-contested affair and featured the highest quality, and the grittiest, hockey played throughout the course of the tournament. The USA were up 1-0 at the first intermission, before Canada put up two goals of their own in the second. A goal by Monique Lamoureux-Morando brought the U.S. level before they took out the four-time defending gold medalists in the shootout.

Click here for the full recap 

Alpine Skiing: Shiffrin wins silver, Vonn misses out  

Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn had mixed results in the women’s combined. Vonn, two days after claiming bronze in the downhill, posted the best time in the downhill section tonight, while Shiffrin had some work to do after finishing sixth.

Shiffrin, who favors the slalom, sped down the bottom portion of the course to propel herself to a guaranteed medal position. Vonn, who skied the slalom last, saw her quest for gold abruptly end after she hooked one of the gates on the course, resulting in a DNF.

The two favorites of the men’s slalom, Marcel Hirscher and Henrik Kristofferson, both failed to finish their races, which left open a huge opportunity for the field. The man who stepped up was Sweden’s Andre Myhrer, who finished in 1:38.99.

Read the full women’s combined recap here 

Short Track: South Korea stunned in final short track day 

It was a disastrous day for South Korea. Their strategy for this event was to sit back for the majority of the race, and then strike in the last three laps.

Choi Minjeong, a huge favorite to win gold, found herself in fifth place heading into the final two laps and attempted to maneuver her way into the gold medal position. On the final turn, though, Choi tried to move inside the lane but ended up colliding with her compatriot Suk Shim-Hee, leaving the South Korean crowd silent.

Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands won the gold.

In the men’s relay 5000m, the Koreans were expected to win gold as well. There was a lot of contact in the race, but it was an untimely fall from a South Korean skater that ended their dreams – again, leaving the home crowd silent.

Hungary, China, and Canada took home the medals.

Full recap available here 

Biathlon: Belarus wins relay gold on windy evening

A very windy evening made shooting increasingly difficult for the athletes tonight. It reared its ugly head with Germany and Norway, two teams that were supposed to be the front runners for the gold medal. Laura Dahlmeier, who’s been excellent this whole fortnight, didn’t even have a chance to properly anchor Germany because they were already a minute behind before they reached her.

It ended up being Belarus with the gold, powered by four-time Olympic gold medalist Darya Domracheva in the final leg. Sweden and France finished second and third, respectively.

Nordic Combined: Germany powers to gold 

A strong cross-country performance gave Germany another medal in the nordic combined. Austria led entering the event, having finished first in the large hill portion, but Eric Frenzel and company crushed the competition in the 20km relay. The Germans won by a margin of 52 seconds. Norway and Austria came in second and third, respectively.

Full nordic combined recap available here

Miracle re-dub: USA win gold in Olympic hockey

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Feb. 22 has proven to be a day bringing good cheer to American hockey.

Exactly 38 years ago to this day, Herb Brooks guided the United States men’s hockey team to an improbable Olympic gold medal, putting an end to the Soviet Union’s four straight hockey golds.

History does have a way of repeating itself.

Tonight, the U.S. women’s team’s Olympic anguish turned to triumph after they beat arch-rivals Canada 3-2 in a shootout thriller. In doing so, the American women snapped Canada’s streak of four consecutive Olympic gold medals.

It was only four years ago when the Americans suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Canada in Sochi, losing in overtime. They wouldn’t allow themselves to forget it.

It was that memory that pushed Team USA in this tournament, who were destined to take on their bitter northern rivals. Like Herb Brooks’ team, the U.S. women’s team showed tremendous character to fight back in the third period when they were down 1-2, and again when they were down in the shootout.

A beautifully choreographed penalty shot from Jocelyne Lamoreux-Davidson, backed up by 20-year old Maddie Rooney’s game winning save, that sealed Team USA’s historic run.

Four years ago was Canada’s time. Tonight, it’s America’s time.