History Lesson: Tim Howard and the MetroStars

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JACK HAZZARD

The Secretary of Defense returns to New Jersey.

The New York Red Bulls will honor the former MetroStars and current Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard, 38, on Saturday. Here’s a look back on Howard’s time playing professional soccer in his home state.

In the early years of Major League Soccer, some players took odd routes to the league. Howard was no exception.

As a teenager, Howard was scouted by Tim Mulqueen, a former United States under-17 assistant coach. Mulqueen gave the teenager a chance to grow and eventually earn a spot with the U.S. U17 squad.

In 1997, Mulqueen became the coach of the North Jersey Imperials of the United Systems of Independent Soccer League (USISL) while also joining the MetroStars as goalkeeping coach.

As Mulqueen moved up, so did Howard. After playing only six matches with the Imperials, Howard joined the MetroStars. He made his debut on Aug. 18, 1998, starting in goal against Colorado in a 4-1 victory at Giants Stadium.

 

image_uploaded_from_ios_720Howard would go on to make eight starts in nine appearances for the MetroStars during the 1999 MLS season, averaging 1.58 goals against while winning only one of his nine matches.

In 2000 Howard had a 1.59 GAA, but finished with 5-2-2 record. In 2001 Howard won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award and the league’s Humanitarian of the Year award. He finished with a 13-10-3 record,  with 146 saves and a 1.33 GAA.

It was much of the same in 2002. Howard played in 27 of 28 regular-season matches while earning a spot in the MLS Best XI for the second straight year.

In his final season with the Metro Stars, the New Jersey native appeared in 13 matches and had three shutouts. In the middle of the 2003 MLS season, Manchester United swooped in and bought Howard for $4 million. He then moved on for a long tenure at Everton while claiming the job as the No. 1 goalkeeper for the U.S. national team in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Howard left the MetroStars after playing 88 league matches and 8 cup games — but he and the club never secured silverware during his tenure.