Tim Howard - USMNT - Belgium in World Cup

MIAMI – Widely panned in preseason after two straight bottom-three finishes, the Colorado Rapids have been the surprise of the MLS season. They’ve raced out to an early lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings, collecting 24 points through their first 12 matches.

The Rapids have been a legitimate shock to most of the league, but their strong start has been no surprise for a certain American goalkeeping legend: Tim Howard.

Howard, who signed with Colorado in March and will join the club following his stint with the US national team in the upcoming Copa América Centenario, told reporters at USMNT camp in Miami on Thursday that he expected his new club to get off to a fast start.

“I follow the team, spoke to a few guys on the team, and it’s not a surprise when I think you saw how they built the roster,” he said. “Of course, it kind of has to come together, but certainly coming into the preseason when all the pieces got put in place, it looked like a really good team. The fact that they’re out there and able to execute and go and get results, it’s good to know that they’re on the path they set off on.”

Bolstered by the offseason acquisitions of USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones, midfielder Marco Pappa and attacker Shkelzen Gashi, the Rapids are an unbeaten 5-0-2 in their last seven matches.

Head coach Pablo Mastroeni has put together an excellent defense, with the Rapids having allowed a league-low nine goals and posted four shutouts this year. Howard, who put a bow on a decade at English Premier League club Everton last weekend, should only further bolster Colorado’s back line when he becomes eligible for MLS action in July.

The 37-year-old, who said he is “very excited” about playing under his former USMNT teammate Mastroeni, should also bring some significant buzz to the Rapids. Returning to MLS after 13 years in England will be a bit of an adjustment, but the longtime USMNT ‘keeper is looking forward to life in a new city with his new, top-of-the-table team.

“In reality, I’m packing up my life and moving onto the next chapter, so it was hard [to leave Everton],” he said. “But I think when you put roots down somewhere and you make lifelong friends and you have great memories, that’s always going to be there, and I’m always going to go back [to visit]. So I was excited for the new transition, you know? As sad as I was to leave, I’m so excited about what lies ahead for me in Denver.”