English Premiership

Goalkeeper Tim Howard to leave Everton

Tim Howard (AFP)
Tim Howard (AFP)

Liverpool - Goalkeeper Tim Howard is taking his big-save ability back to Major League Soccer.

The long-time standout for the U.S. national team will leave Everton of the English Premier League at the end of the season to join Colorado Rapids. It will end the American goalkeeper's 13-year stint in English soccer, 10 of which have been at Everton after joining from Manchester United.

Howard has agreed to a three-and-a-half year deal with Colorado, starting when the Premier League ends in May. The Rapids said he will be added to the roster at the opening of the secondary transfer window on July 4.

"It's a new chapter that I'm looking forward to for many different reasons," Howard said in a conference call on Sunday.

"I'll be flying the flag and be hoping to bring even more top players to (Denver).

"I think MLS does a great job of selling itself. I'll do my part, but all the people in the UK that I've spoken to are always asking about MLS. They seem very interested at the prospect of playing here."

The 37-year-old Howard has served on the national team every year since 2002 and always seems to shine on the biggest of stages. He stopped 16 shots during the 2014 World Cup against Belgium in the knockout round.

What's more, he's been voted the CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Rapids acquired Howard through the allocation process after the club picked up the No 1 spot in the allocation ranking order through a trade with the Chicago Fire on Jan. 14.

Colorado will certainly see a boost in attendance with the addition of Howard - the standings, too. The team has missed the postseason the last two seasons.

"Tim is one of the greatest players this country has ever produced and we are delighted that he chose the Colorado Rapids when he decided to rejoin MLS," Rapids president Tim Hinchey said.

"We are truly excited that Tim is a part of our future."

Howard felt the same way.

"I think what Colorado cares about is winning," Howard said on the MLS website.

"To put my face on a billboard, that doesn't do a whole lot. Winning takes care of everything."

Howard fell out of Everton's starting lineup in place of Joel Robles. He's been playing in the English Premier League since 2003, joining Manchester United after a six-year stint with the MetroStars in MLS. He went to Everton in 2006, first on a loan and then on a permanent basis.

"I feel fresher now because I've had a month-and-a-half break," Howard said. "I feel good, my body is great. I stay in top physical condition. I'm excited to get back on the field.

"My body fat is at 6.9 percent and I'm at 200 pounds. For 37, I'm not doing too bad. For 22 I wouldn't be doing too bad."

Everton chairperson Bill Kenwright praised Howard for his contributions on the team's website.

"Both on and off the pitch throughout his time at Goodison he has always been the perfect 'Blue'. The best in every way," Kenwright said.

"A massive individual of not only great talent but also great loyalty and integrity."

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