Howard: MLS return a future possibility

US netminder says if fit is right, New York could be an option

Tim Howard was back in MLS territory with the US National Team on Tuesday night, and he admitted that he’s open to a return to the league if the opportunity arises later in his career.

Howard, a New Jersey native who made his MLS debut at the age of 19 with the MetroStars, said he’d prefer to return to the New York Red Bulls if he gets his choice in the coming years.

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Howard signed a five-year contract with Everton last year. He’ll be 35 years old when the contract expires, possibly offering the opportunity to play the final years of his career back on American soil.

“I see that being possible,” Howard said after the US fell to Brazil 2-0 at New Meadowlands Stadium. “I would want it to be in this area, if I had my way. But if I do come back … I don’t really want to play for a paycheck. I don’t want to just play to play, because I’m too competitive and I like to win. I don’t want to go through the motions.”

Howard, 31, played in parts of five seasons with the MetroStars before he was famously sold to Manchester United midway through the 2003 MLS campaign.

“There would have to be a lot of pieces in place for me to feel like I’m going to place where I feel I can win,” Howard said. “And to a place where the organization is moving in the right direction, and certainly the Red Bulls are doing that.”

Howard praised the recent moves of the Red Bulls, who just in the last few weeks bolstered the roster with the signings of Designated Players and fellow World Cup veterans Thierry Henry and Rafael Márquez.

“I used to watch the games when I was in high school here, Peter Vermes, Tony Meola, Tab Ramos and all those guys,” Howard said. “So even when I was here, it was a lot better than in 1996. They had taken huge strides, and that was seven years ago. It’s fantastic to see.”