Sounders FC

Slovenia beware: Howard should be in goal for U.S.

IRENE, South Africa – 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.

Howard has emerged as one of the world’s top goalkeepers at Everton in the English Premier League, 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 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 goalkeeper.