Colorado's Tim Howard "feeling stronger" but unsure of status for opener

Tim Howard looks dejected after injury with USMNT vs. Mexico - 11/12/16

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – Tim Howard should be ready for action right around the start of the Major League Soccer season, but the Colorado Rapids goalkeeper is taking a measured approach to his recovery from the right adductor injury he suffered while playing for the US against Mexico on November 11.

According to Howard, the injury generally calls for a 16-week recovery period. His subsequent surgery took place on November 16, starting the clock on the timeline for his recuperation. 

“Sixteen weeks brings me to March 8,” Howard said of his return. “Our first game is March 4, so we’ll see. I’ll take it week-by-week, but I’m feeling stronger. I feel good.”

Howard believes his injury was the result of what, for him, amounted to an 18-month season.

“Anytime you transfer from Europe or transfer back to MLS, because of the way the schedule is, you're going to have an 18-month season,” the New Jersey native said. 

Howard made 19 appearances for the Rapids last season (including the playoffs) on the back of 25 starts for Everton in the English Premier League. A deep run for the Rapids in the postseason combined with national team duty ended up taking its toll.

“I needed to get through three more weeks,'' he said. "My back was killing me. My calves were killing me, but I had to get through three more weeks. So I was just kind of swimming upstream and hoping to get that far. I couldn’t. My body broke down.''

Howard said the shutdown forced by the injury was something his body needed.

"The layoff was always needed, so it’s been good,” he said. 

Despite a desire to get back to work with the Rapids and help the US in the March qualifiers, the 37-year-old veteran knows he must be patient, especially with so much on the line on both the domestic and international fronts over the next 18 months.

“What I don’t want to do from this injury is rush back so I can play two games and [then] miss 40,” Howard explained. “I want to miss two if I have to, and play the next 40.”

Which is not to say he doesn't want to get back as soon as possible. Howard says he is happy to be in Colorado and is champing at the bit to get back between the posts.

“I feel so challenged here,” Howard said of being with the Rapids. “That’s kind of what I was hoping for. To be a part of a franchise who’s desperate to win another MLS Cup. We’ve got a fiery coach [in Pablo Mastroeni]. He’s passionate. We’ve got really good ownership. I’m focused and committed and it’s fulfilling me and sustaining me in ways that I was hoping it would.”