ARLINGTON, Texas – Tim Howard was on the United States side that captured the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup title.
Ten years later, and in the twilight of his career, the 38-year-old goalkeeper knows how extraordinary it is to raise the trophy that is earned biennially by the best team from the regions of North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
On Wednesday, Howard and the Americans will have another opportunity to be on center stage, when they face Jamaica in the 2017 final at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
“I told the young guys when you get to my age, they don’t come along very often, so don’t take it for granted,” Howard said. “Try to grab that trophy with two hands and lift. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s special when you get to a final.”
The Colorado Rapids star is among a handful of veterans on the U.S. to have previously experienced Gold Cup title glory, including Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey, who won back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2007.
“It’s great to try to win a trophy on home soil,” the 34-year-old said. “I’ve been part of teams that have won two Gold Cups before. I’ve been to some other finals as well. It’s huge for confidence. To get this trophy would be great, but also the confidence it would give us going into these next four games of World Cup qualifying to try to get a place in Russia. We’ll be ready.”
Another member of that 2007 team was Michael Bradley, who was 20-years-old at the time. The Toronto FC midfielder also covets the chance to play for another crown.
“It means everything,” expressed Bradley. “We said it before the game, you don’t get a million chances to play in a final in your career …in any final…Gold Cup, MLS Cup, European Cup, whatever it is. The chance to compete with a trophy on the line, to play in a final, to play in these big moments, those opportunities don’t come around very often.”