Everton FC's Tim Howard stunned by USA victory over Spain
TIM HOWARD today admitted to still being in shock that his season could yet end with a winner's medal.
Everton's goalkeeper performed heroics last night as the United States pulled off one of the biggest shocks in international football for many years by beating Spain 2-0.
That victory means the US will now face Brazil or South Africa in the final of the Confederations Cup on Sunday night in Johannesburg but it doesn't tell the whole story.
Howard and his team-mates looked set to be on the first plane home after losing their two matches but a 3-0 win over Egypt, coupled with Brazil beating Italy by the same score, opened the door for them and they have taken advantage in spectacular style.
"We're proud that this group is the one that is going to represent the US in the final," said Howard, who kept a record number of Premier League clean sheets for Everton last season.
"We are scratching our heads at the minute but it goes to show you what hard work and commitment to each other can bring."
Spain were long odds-on to extend their unbeaten run to a 36th game in Bloemfontein but they never threatened to blow the US house down.
But even when they did find a way through, the European Champions found Howard in the same terrific form that he showed when helping the Blues reach the FA Cup final.
Typically, though, he was keen to deflect his own role in the result and just hopes the US can finish the job.
"Our defenders played great," he said. "Anytime you come out with a shock win you need to take your chances in front of goal and you need some guys to defend like bandits.
"Sure, you need your goalkeeper to come up with some saves and sometimes you get lucky. We rode our luck as Spain are an unbelievable side. They are the best in the world."
David Moyes' squad are due back into training a week on Monday but Howard, Steven Pienaar, Tim Cahill, Jack Rodwell and Joseph Yobo will have extended breaks after spending much of June on international duty.
Meanwhile, Everton have all but clarified their pre-season schedule after announcing two more friendlies against Coventry City and Blackpool.
The Blues will travel to the Ricoh Arena on Sunday, August 2 for a 12.30pm kick-off against Coventry before heading to Bloomfield Road on Tuesday, August 4, where they will face the Tangerines (7.30pm).
Moyes' team kick-off preparations for the new campaign with a fixture against Asante Kotoko in Ghana on July 12 and then face League Two side Rochdale at Spotland on July 18.
They then fly out for a tour of the United States and Canada, where they will face crack Argentinean side River Plate in Edmonton on July 25 and an MLS All-Star XI in Salt Lake City four days later.
Preparations are then likely to be concluded with a game against a top European side at Goodison Park the week before the season starts - as has been the case in recent years.