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Tim Howard impressed with MLS, but rules out return before retirement

United States goalkeeper says he's impressed with the improvement MLS has made since he left in 2003.

Kevin C. Cox

Tim Howard has been paying attention to Major League Soccer from afar. The 35-year-old goalkeeper is happy to see United States teammates like DaMarcus Beasley returning to MLS at an increasing rate and is impressed by the rising level of competition. But after signing a four-year extension with Everton, he also reiterated that he's unlikely to follow in their footsteps anytime soon.

"For me, I think the MLS ship has sailed," Howard told SB Nation, echoing comments he made back in April. "That's what it looks like anyway. I signed a new four-year contract with Everton. If you cut me open, I bleed blue and I want to finish my career there. I can't foresee myself coming back. I think there was probably a chance before I signed the contract, but not anymore."

At the same time, Howard was pleased to learn that Beasley had signed with the Houston Dynamo.

"Beasley was always thinking about coming to MLS," Howard said. "There's no one I've been more happy for over the last couple of years. He's just been rock solid at the left back position, he really found himself in Mexico. So it's good to see him come back home and hopefully play really well because you saw how well he played and how mature he's become."

Part of Howard's good feelings are rooted in the undeniable progress MLS has made since he transferred to Manchester United following six seasons in the league.

"It's been great," he said. "When I was playing, the stadiums weren't half full, they were nearly empty. Very few teams had their own stadiums. The league has just grown by leaps and bounds with the fan bases, their own stadiums and the talent they've been able to attract from all over the world. There's been a huge shift and it's been great to see from the outside."