Howard cleared to play against Slovenia

Howard cleared to play against Slovenia

Published Jun. 14, 2010 3:53 p.m. ET

Relax, U.S. fans. Tim Howard should be in goal Friday against Slovenia.

Howard is expected to play after U.S. team medical staff examined him Monday and decided no further tests were needed on his bruised ribs. Howard is making "substantial improvement" following a collision with Emile Heskey in Saturday night's 1-1 draw against England, U.S. Soccer said in a statement.

It seemed unlikely Howard would miss the key game against Group C leader Slovenia, considering he earned man of the match honors Saturday after Heskey slammed into him feet-first at full speed in the 29th minute. But there was some concern Sunday that Howard's ribs might be broken, not just bruised, and U.S. coach Bob Bradley said he would re-evaluate his goalkeeper's status.

"When you see the way Timmy handled himself after the collision last night, you'd certainly expect he'll be on the field again," Bradley said Sunday.


News that Howard will play is sure to give a boost to the Americans, who are tied with England for second place in Group C.

Howard has emerged as one of the world's top goalkeepers at Everton, and he is the cornerstone of the U.S. team. The Americans have won 31 of his 52 appearances, including last year's upset of top-ranked Spain in the Confederations Cup.

Howard was so stellar at the Confederations Cup that he was awarded the Golden Glove as the event's best keeper.

"In these tournaments, you need a good goalkeeper," veteran U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo said. "So we're very, very happy Tim's on our side."