You could probably forgive Alec Kann for being just a little starstruck when he and his Atlanta United teammates stepped out on the field against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
“That’s the first time in a while where I was like, ‘Wow, I’m playing against Tim Howard,’” the 26-year-old said after Atlanta’s 1-0 victory over Colorado at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It was Kann’s first clean sheet in nearly three months as he helped the team to its fourth straight home win.
Howard has certainly been around the block more than a few times. He made his international debut in 2002 when Kann was a twelve year old growing up in DeKalb County. Naturally, the experience of playing against someone who has had such a impact on American soccer was a key moment in Kann’s career.
“To me, he’s (in the) top two or three best American goalkeepers ever,” he said. “He showed it tonight and made some unbelievable saves to keep (Colorado) in the game. It was really special to play against a guy like that. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
At the end of the day, though, it was business as usual, and getting a victory was the most important thing.
“Still opponents, for sure,” Kann said. “We wanted to get one up on them. I get to say I beat Tim Howard.”
Overall, Kann was happy with the improved defense in front of him, especially with a less than stellar showing against D.C. United on the road in their midweek match last Wednesday. He complimented Anton Walkes, who was making his first start in MLS at right back in place of Tyrone Mears.
“Anton played great,” he said. “Really tactically disciplined performance from him. He hasn’t played a ton lately, so good for him stepping in and getting a clean sheet.”
He spoke about the importance of carrying that on moving forward.
“Early on in the season we did a really good job defensively,” he said. “We got a little bit away from that, just not doing the things that brought us success early on in the season. (Saturday) I think we did a lot more of that.”