Natacha Pisarenko, Associated Press
United States' goalkeeper Tim Howard gets ready to kick the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Belgium and the USA at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

Doubts about the U.S.'s chances of a lengthy showing in the World Cup were validated Tuesday when Belgium beat America 2-1.

Yet when the dust settled, the Internet had already chosen a clear winner: U.S. goal keeper Tim Howard.

Howard was on fire Tuesday, racking up a record 16 saves that branded him on the Internet's consciousness as nothing short of an American hero, as CNN, Mashable and many on Twitter postulated. CNN published a list of tweets comparing Howard to Jesus Christ and by Wednesday morning, hardly a cranny of the Internet didn't include some sort of story about Howard.

Buzzfeed proclaimed Howard "America's Lord and Savior," regardless of the game's outcome. At The Atlantic, Spencer Kornhaber credited Howard as the man who "just taught me to love soccer."

NPR reported that someone even named Howard the U.S. defense secretary in a gag Wikipedia article. One of Twitter's top trending hashtags is #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave, which gave rise to a meme of the same name — depicting Howard edited into iconic moments, including Mufasa's death in "The Lion King," the original "Jaws" poster and the extinction of dinosaurs.

But perhaps Grantland writer Brian Phillips summed the fandemonium up best in an article about the match.

"When I try to come to terms with what Tim Howard did yesterday, my brain just, like, kaleidoscopes," Phillips said. "I’ve never seen anything like what Tim Howard did yesterday."


Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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