Tim Howard seals summer move from Everton to Colorado Rapids in MLS

Tim Howard has completed a deal to join the Colorado Rapids, returning to Major League Soccer after 13 years in England.

The United States goalkeeper will leave Everton at the end of the Premier League season and will be eligible to play for the Rapids when the MLS summer transfer window opens on July 8.

Howard was under contract with Everton until 2018, but the Toffees allowed the 37-year-old to move to Colorado for a transfer fee of about $600,000, sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations told ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle, who reported last month the deal was almost complete.

MLS did not reveal terms of Howard's designated player contract with the Rapids, but the goalkeeper confirmed to ESPN that it lasts through the 2019 season, when he will be 40.

Sources told ESPN FC's Carlisle that Howard will make an average of $2.5-2.8 million per year. As a midseason DP signing, only $228,750 of his salary will count toward the Rapids' cap this season.

The move brings Howard's career full circle, back to the league where he began his career in 1998 with the MetroStars -- now the New York Red Bulls.

Howard last played in MLS in 2003 before moving to Manchester United. He started at Old Trafford until the club bought Edwin van der Sar in 2005, and United loaned him to Everton the following year.

He completed a permanent deal to Everton in 2007 and started there for nearly a decade until this February, when a brief knee injury allowed Joel Robles to replace him.

Robles' performances in cup games earlier in the season, coupled with some shaky displays by Howard, led to Everton boss Roberto Martinez confirming the American had lost his starting spot.

Howard told ESPN's SportsCenter that he knew the time was right to move on.

"I've had a fantastic career in England, in particular at Everton Football Club," he said. "It's not done yet, but I think as football clubs move forward and players have careers to think about, you always have to make decisions.

"Sometimes those are every four years and sometimes they creep up on you, and this one crept up on me because I had two years remaining here at Everton that I planned on seeing out.

"When I spoke to my family, when I spoke to Roberto Martinez and the chairman [Bill Kenwright] as well, I thought the decision, and the timing more than anything -- because in life it's all about timing -- and obviously with my discussions with Colorado, it just seemed to be the right move. It was an instinctual gut feeling, and I'm excited about it."

Howard has not played for Everton since Jan. 24, but retired goalkeeper Kasey Keller told the Denver Post this week that his former U.S. teammate will still "be the best goalkeeper in MLS. No question."

To acquire Howard, the Rapids obtained the top allocation ranking in a draft-day trade in January. They then attempted to use the ranking to sign U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya from Nantes, but the French club refused to sell. Colorado then turned its attention to Howard.

Owned by Arsenal's leading shareholder Stan Kroenke, the Rapids are one of the original 10 MLS franchises. They were MLS Cup winners in 2010 but have not won a playoff game in four years and finished last in the Western Conference last season.

Howard said he was excited to bring the club back to their previous standards and play for Pablo Mastroeni, a former international teammate who is in his second year as Rapids manager.

"The Rapids are trying to build something special," said Howard, who will attend Colorado's game at D.C. United on Sunday and give an interview on ESPN2's broadcast (5 p.m. ET) during halftime.

"They're one of the teams who have won an MLS Cup championship. They know what it is to be a winner and they're trying to get back to those heights. The plan that they've put in place to add players, to become one of the distinguished franchises in the MLS excited me. It's a project, it's something I'm looking forward to."

Along with Brad Guzan, Howard also remains one of the top options for Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. national team ahead of this week's World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala.

Howard has made 106 appearances for the U.S. since 2002 and has been named to the country's squad for the last three World Cups. After backing up Keller in 2006 in Germany, he started every game in 2010 in South Africa and 2014 in Brazil, where he set a World Cup record with 15 saves in the Americans' round-of-16 defeat to Belgium.

Recently returned from a yearlong sabbatical from the U.S. team, Howard said he aims to remain on the squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when he will be 39, though he admitted this Rapids deal will be his final professional contract.

Asked how long he can keep playing, Howard said: "This contract with Colorado is three and a half seasons, and that takes me just a year or so beyond the World Cup, and that seems about right to me.

"My aspirations are to play for my national team and play in the World Cup and be a part of a group that does something special in the World Cup as well. So I'm excited about Colorado and what we can achieve there, so I think that'll be a really good time to finish.

"I didn't expect to play beyond the age of 40, but it looks like that's going to happen, and you know what, my body feels great, it really does."