(CNN) – In his weekly address Friday, President Obama praised the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team for representing "America so well" in the World Cup, and gave a special mention to goalkeeper Tim Howard.
"I know there’s actually a petition on the White House website to make Tim Howard the next Secretary of Defense," he joked. "Chuck Hagel’s got that spot right now, but if there is a vacancy, I promise to think about it."
Howard set a World Cup record with 16 saves in Team USA's unsuccessful match against Belgium on Tuesday. But the team's better-than-expected performance helped crown Howard as the country's new soccer hero.
He's now the subject of two petitions on the White House website: One calls for Obama to appoint Howard of Secretary of Defense, while the other says Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington should be renamed to "Tim Howard National Airport."
Hagel, the sitting defense secretary, phoned the goalkeeper this week to "thank him for defending the United States of America at the World Cup," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said. Hagel also invited the team to drop by the Pentagon next time they are in town.
"He told Howard that with some training, he could someday become the real secretary of defense," Kirby said.