The rumor had died down for a few days but just got very interesting as a source has told ProSoccerTalk that Howard has held “serious talks” with Colorado and after 10 years at Goodison Park he looks highly likely to sign for the Rapids and supposedly wants a return to the U.S.
If all goes to plan in negotiations between Everton and MLS then Howard could sign this month but would only move to Colorado in May following the conclusion of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
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Veteran U.S. international Howard, 36, has recently put in a string of fine displays for the Toffees but throughout this campaign he has also been criticized by some sections of the Everton support, especially following a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal earlier in the season. An up and down season for Howard has also seen him criticized for giving away a penalty kick in the 2-1 home defeat to Swansea on Sunday, plus his role in Diego Costa‘s goal in Everton’s 3-3 draw at Chelsea last weekend.
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Further reinforcing the notion that Howard could be on the brink of a surprising potential move back to MLS — especially to a Rapids franchise who finished rock bottom of the Western Conference in 2015 — last Monday the Rapids announced they had traded starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto FC for targeted allocation money, their highest natural third round selection in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and a conditional first round selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Plus Colorado currently holds the number one allocation ranking in MLS after making a trade with the Chicago Fire for that position less than two weeks ago.
That means any current U.S. national team player looking to sign with the league will be offered to them first and Colorado’s VP of soccer operations, Paul Bravo, has been quoted as saying that the move up to No. 1 in the allocation order is “the most significant deal we’ve done in this club’s history.” That says it all
Howard’s boss at Everton, Roberto Martinez, was asked by the media following Sunday’s defeat to Swansea if the Rapids had been in contact with Everton: “At the moment there is nothing” was his response. Now, it seems like things are moving forward.
Losing their long-time starting goalkeeper would not be ideal for the Toffees but given Howard’s commitment to the Merseyside outfit for over a decade, you get the sense that Everton wouldn’t stand in his way and would be unlikely to demand too high of a transfer fee from MLS to complicate negotiations.
In a 0-0 draw at Manchester City on Jan. 13, Howard pulled off probably his best performance since his World Cups heroics for the U.S. against Belgium in the last 16 of the 2014 tournament, and he still has plenty to offer at the top level. With his young family based Stateside, Howard took a self-imposed sabbatical from the USMNT from Sept. 2014 until Sept. 2015 and even though he has a contract at Everton until the summer of 2018, getting to spend extra time with his kids and returning to the U.S. after 13 years abroad will play a huge factor in his potential move.
With Joel Robles pushing him all the way for a starting spot at Goodison Park, is this the right time for Howard to return to MLS and play out the remaining years of his career? We shall see…
Howard, a New Jersey native, made his name in MLS for the MetroStars from 1999-2003 but was transferred to Manchester United where he spent three years before signing for Everton permanently in 2007 after a successful loan spell during the 2006-07 campaign.
It seems as though one of the greatest goalkeepers the U.S. has ever produced is closer than ever to returning home.
UPDATE: Jeff Carlisle of ESPN is reporting that there would likely be no transfer fee paid by MLS to Everton for Howard and he would become the highest paid goalkeeper in the league, earning between $2-3 million per season.