Tim Howard is not here for your farewell tour.
The American legend announced on Tuesday that 2019 would be his last season between the pipes, the 18-yard box a home so familiar since making his professional debut for the North Jersey Imperials in 1997. The Colorado Rapids 'keeper isn't looking for attention, nor ceremony -- he just wanted to get it out of the way more than a month before the season starting.
“This is far from a farewell tour, that’s never been my intention," Howard said on a press conference call Tuesday. "It was more that I didn’t want any type of rumors to start, or speculation, this will be old news by tomorrow.”
Well, intentions be damned, what if clubs decide to treat his final season with requisite significance?
“Oh god, I’d be humbled to no end if teams decide that I’m worth their time and energy to recognize me and my career in some way," Howard said. "None of those things will take away from the game itself.”
The game itself is what all he wants to focus on. Howard and the Rapids have begun preseason training, and the 39-year-old has big hopes for 2019.
“Whether I do or not, (expectations) will be there,” Howard said. “I think this will be the most talented team in Rapids history, even more talented than when this team won the title in 2010. That puts the pressure on us. A few of the boys came in and told me ‘damn, Tim, we got to win now’, for their own careers, and I’m like ‘trust me, I understand what you mean.’ There’s pressure, but pressure’s good.”
In 2018, the Rapids were insipid in attack. They didn't catch the goalscoring wave which buoyed most of MLS, finding the back of the net a league-worst 36 times, at least 13 less than all other Western Conference teams.
This offseason, they've taken big steps to remedy that ailment.
The Rapids traded for Kei Kamara, who ranks sixth on the league's all-time leading scorer chart, as well as Diego Rubio, who was third in goals per minutes last year after he scored eight times in just 781 minutes. They acquired attacking midfielder Nicolas Mezquida, Kamara's teammate in Vancouver. Lastly, the club inked veteran midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who was integral to Sporting Kansas City for most of this decade then LAFC in their expansion campaign.
“What I love about both Kei and Benny, is they can pick a fight in an empty house," Howard said as a compliment. "I love that fire and passion. I loved playing against them, I’m so delighted that they’re wearing burgundy. In terms of Benny as a footballer and Kei as a goalscorer — and Rubio, and Mezquida – We’ve added so many good pieces that I really think we can be electrifying in that half of the field.”
Electrifying in attack would be a welcomed change of pace for Rapids supporters, home and away.
With 2019 being his last season, the kid from North Brunswick, New Jersey has one more away trip he's looking forward to than the rest.
“I think it’ll be good to go back home one more time," Howard said, referencing the Rapids' away match on August 31. "Red Bull Arena is something that feels familiar, you know? It’s where it all started for me – obviously not on that field, but that will always be special."