NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard is ready to grind out the next four-year cycle heading into the 2014 World Cup.
"What's gone on in the last four years and where I feel like I'm at in my career, I think I'd be silly not to try and tackle the next four years and give it everything I have," Howard told The Associated Press on Friday. "I feel fitter than I ever have at 31. I feel like I'm playing the best I have."
Howard allowed five goals in four games, with 16 saves, in his first World Cup as a starter. He acknowledged there were times the last couple of years he wasn't sure if he wanted to stay on the national team through 2014.
"It's a grind. It's hard," he said. "It's a big commitment, a big responsibility."
It's a responsibility he welcomes after the Americans won their World Cup group for the first time in 80 years, before a disappointing overtime loss to Ghana in the knockout stage.
But first it's back to England and Everton of the Premier League, where he established himself as an elite goalkeeper. For 10 weeks last winter, he played alongside U.S. teammate Landon Donovan, who was on loan from Major League Soccer.
Howard grinned when asked if Donovan would join him at Everton.
"I've heard my good friend Don Garber say absolutely not," he said. "He's doing fantastic things in the MLS. I left seven years ago and the MLS now is so amazing in the growth they've had. Landon's been a huge part of that.
"If it worked out as it did last year for all parties and he came for three months, that'd be great. He had a fantastic World Cup and there are a lot of people who want his signature. We hope we can persuade him. But, again, he has a team; he has a commitment."
But isn't Everton the best place for Donovan to improve his game?
"I'm going to say yes because I'm an Evertonian," Howard said.
"That's something that Landon has to assess," he said. "That decision has been chewed on a lot by different analysts. Landon continues to prove people wrong, that he can still be a world-class player, play huge on the biggest stages and be part of the L.A. Galaxy. That speaks to how well the MLS is doing and how highly respected the MLS is."
Howard would like to see Bob Bradley remain as the U.S. coach — and would like to see Bradley join him in the Premier League. There's talk of Bradley taking over at Fulham.
The Americans will be back together Aug. 10 against Brazil at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. The first friendly after the World Cup can always be a letdown.
"The fact that it's Brazil, it's the first time we've been back on U.S. soil since the World Cup, Giants Stadium ... that atmosphere is going to be rocking," Howard said. "When you go out there, you'll be ready to play. The buildup to that game will be so enormous that any rust that you have or any feelings that it is only a friendly will be knocked off very quickly."