Flagrant 2: Tim Howard, American Hero

The U.S. bows out of the World Cup, but America gains a new hero

Tim Howard world cup
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Tim Howard of the United States during the FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States in Salvador, Brazil.
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Well, this is depressing.

The U.S. bowed out of the World Cup yesterday, losing 2-1 to Belgium on a pair of extra-time goals. The Americans were outgunned for the majority of the match, repeatedly saved by the efforts of goalkeeper Tim Howard, and largely outplayed. Yet somehow, once again, they did not wilt, seemingly willing this one to an additional 30 minutes, where finally, inevitably, the levee broke.

The U.S. Exits the World Cup Battered and Broken...but Unbowed

Now, comes the aftermath. But, lo, a hero arises.

"Heartache"

If the bodies of U.S. playes strewn about the pitch at the conclusion of this one wasn't proof of their effort, well, let's just say they gave it their all...mostly to prevent the match from becoming a massacre.

Because the Belgians, a team previously criticized for being too passive at this tournament, were on the attack from the opening minute, outshooting the U.S. 27-9. They routinely sent crosses skidding through the box, and earned 19 corner kicks (compared to just 4 for the U.S.) for their efforts. Yet thanks to Howard, this one remained nil-nil heading into extra time, when first Kevin De Bruyne, then fresh-legged sub Romelu Lukaku found the back of the net.

But the U.S. was undaunted, and nearly clawed their way back. Young gun Julian Green's goal in the 107th minute made it 2-1, then, moments later captain Clint Dempsey slipped through a set piece only to have his point-blank chance snuffed out by Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois. Game over. Tournament over. Dream over.

Howard had 16 saves, the most in a World Cup match in 50 years, but afterwards, he downplayed his effort ("It's my job," he muttered) and praised the efforts of his teammates, who fought for 120-plus minutes, but couldn't find an equalizer against the Belgians.

"It's heartbreaking," Howard said. "I don't think we could have given any more. What a great game of football. We got beat by a really great team. It's heartache. It hurts."

Get That Man An Airport

Howard was unquestionably the hero, and now, he is being treated as such.

Following the match against Belgium, a White House petition was started to rename the Ronald Reagan National Airport after Howard, who is described as "a national treasure, Minister of Defense [and] friend of Joe Biden."

"We politely request that we rename the airport airport to recognize his accomplishments and meritorious service to the United States," the petition concludes.

Anyone can post a petition on the "We the People" site, launched by the White House. If a petition gets 100,000 signatures, the administration will respond. As of Wednesday morning, the Howard peitition still has a ways to go; just 2,000 folks have signed it.

C'mon people, it's the least we can do.

Then there's the matter of the #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave hashtag, which has certainly given us a few gems:

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