The Colorado Rapids are attempting to acquire Everton and U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, sources say, after being rebuffed in their attempt to land midfielder Alejandro Bedoya.
The Rapids acquired the top spot in the MLS allocation order from the Chicago Fire during Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, meaning that among MLS sides, they have the inside track to land the veteran goalkeeper.
Howard is an iconic figure in U.S. soccer, especially after his epic performance in the 2014 World Cup, when he delivered a 15-save effort in the round-of-16 defeat against Belgium.
The 36-year-old has also been a mainstay for the Toffees, logging over 400 appearances in all competitions.
But Howard has endured some shaky performances this season for Everton, and while the U.S international continues to have the faith of manager Roberto Martinez, fans have been vocal in their criticism, and are calling for Joel Robles to be inserted into the lineup.
Matters came to a head in a 4-3 defeat to Stoke City back on Dec. 28. Howard had earlier flapped at a cross, and when cheers broke out later after he claimed a routine delivery, the keeper responded with what was interpreted by many as sarcastic applause.
Howard was back to his best last Wednesday, however, with his saves helping Everton secure a 0-0 draw against Manchester City.
He is under contract at Everton until 2018, but Martinez said this week it was "impossible to say" whether Howard would return to Everton next season.
Colorado has been eager to increase its profile this offseason and had made acquiring a Mexico international and a U.S. counterpart a huge priority.
Rapids general manager Paul Bravo on Thursday confirmed that Bedoya's French club Nantes had declined to make the U.S. midfielder available during the current transfer window.
"Right now, the club isn't interested in selling [Bedoya] and we have to respect that," Bravo said.
Earlier this week, sources said the Rapids were close to bringing in Mexico forward Alan Pulido on a one-year loan, and reports on Friday said that deal was all but announced.
Now Colorado is setting its sights on Howard.
If Colorado is successful, it would mark a return to MLS for Howard, who played for the MetroStars -- the forerunner to the New York Red Bulls -- from 1998 to 2003. Howard then signed for Manchester United, where he was in and out of the lineup over the next four seasons with inconsistent performances.
He was loaned to Everton for the 2006-07 season, and his play was such that he made the move permanent in February of 2007. Howard has been a fixture in the Everton lineup ever since.
Howard has appeared for the U.S. 106 times, and represented the Americans at the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups.