The last time Tim Howard took the field in an MLS uniform back in 2003, the Colorado Rapids played at what is now Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and the Portland Timbers were members of a lower-tier league.
Fast forward 13 years and on Monday night, in his return to MLS, Howard showed the kind of veteran leadership that one gains by leading the US national team through two World Cup cycles. Howard registered a shutout in the 0-0 draw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Although he was only called on to make two saves, it was noticeable from the first whistle that Howard was going to run things his way. The Rapids back line often used him to switch the field early in the match, which seemed a deliberate move to get Howard touches and to allow him to get on the same page in his first game with his defense.
When Howard did have to make plays, he was vocal. Portland's Fanendo Adi beat two defenders only to be denied by the far post, and afterward Howard was jumping, clapping, and yelling to get his frustration across.
Howard’s best save came on a 1-on-1 with the Timbers' Lucas Melano, stopping it with a slide. After that, too, he was busy encouraging his defense to keep their focus.
On a night when Portland had all of the best scoring opportunities, Howard made sure to keep them off the board.