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US soccer team loses but gains a hero

The U.S. men's soccer team bowed out of the World Cup in Brazil on Tuesday evening but received generous praise from many in the game, especially for goalkeeper Tim Howard.

With 16 saves in a match that lasted an extended 120 minutes, Howard entered the record books with the most saves in one game since World Cup records began in 1966.

Despite the heroics, the small European nation of Belgium, fifth favorites for the cup according to bookmakers before the tournament, proved too much for American resilience and determination.

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Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne scored in extra time on Tuesday evening to give Belgium a 2-1 win over the United States and a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals against Argentina on Saturday.

Julian Green pulled a goal back for the Americans in the 107th minute, but the U.S. couldn't muster another to send the match to a penalty shootout.

Jamie McDonald | Getty Images

Thirty five year-old Howard set social media site Twitter alight with his bold performance as Belgium made the New Jersey-born keeper pull off a string of world class saves.

ABC's morning program tweeted a picture with Howard, jokingly alluding to the player's presidential ambitions. Film star Tom Hanks got caught up in the emotion of the occasion claiming that "Tim Howard remains a god" on his own personal Twitter feed.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called out Howard for special praise, writing on the social site that Howard was "the most valuable player in the World Cup." There were also claims that the Wikipedia page for the U.S. Secretary of Defense had been briefly altered with a picture of Howard instead of Chuck Hagel.

The ultimate praise, however, came from Belgium's Vincent Kompany, the captain from Tuesday's opposing team, who simply tweeted: "two words...Tim Howard #respect."

Originally playing for the New York/New Jersey Metrostars, Howard is no stranger to U.K. soccer fans after plying his trade in the country for the last 11 years. Initially starting at well-renowned club Manchester United, he headed west to the U.K. city of Liverpool where he has played for Everton since 2007.

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Howard suffers from Tourette syndrome and occasionally experiences muscle contractions in his arm but has said that it never affects his performance. At Everton he has consistently helped the club overachieve despite its tight transfer budget. He regularly pulls off match-winning saves to the delight of his home crowd which feverishly chants the words "USA, USA, USA" in respect of the American. He also remains one of a select few goalkeepers that has scored a goal in the English Premier League despite their tendencies to remain in their own halves.

—The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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