Tim Howard had 'no hesitation' about return from injury vs. Red Bulls

NY Red Bulls 1-0 Colorado: Video via MLS (2:03)

The Red Bulls made it two wins out of two to start the MLS season, winning a tight match against a stingy Rapids side. (2:03)

HARRISON, N.J. -- It was meant to be the day the New York Red Bulls celebrated their goalkeeper Luis Robles confirming his MLS Iron Man status with his 142nd consecutive appearance, but it was a former New York goalkeeper who drew all the attention as the Red Bulls beat Colorado Rapids 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Tim Howard made a surprise return from injury to start his first game since limping out of the U.S.'s loss to Mexico on Nov. 11. And naturally his return to competitive action sparked hope among U.S. fans that Howard would be ready to resume as a starter in time for the vital World Cup qualifier against Honduras at Avaya Stadium on March 24.

And despite the sentimentally satisfying aspect of making his return in front of the fans he started his career with, other than noting that "it's always nice to be back in Jersey," Howard insisted afterward that his recovery schedule had always targeted this game, regardless of the opponents:

"A lot's been written about my timetable, but nobody called me or my surgeon," he said. "There were a lot of assumptions, but I was always focused on my 16 weeks that passed last Wednesday."

Conditions were testing for Howard's return. It was a freezing cold day in Harrison and Howard noted that when he'd seen the snow falling the day before, it had occurred to him that "I'd have preferred a game in Orlando or Houston, but I felt healthy and I just thought I'd go with it and get myself as warm as possible."

He didn't have to wait long. A kick save from Bradley Wright-Phillips in just the second minute was the first of seven saves in a typical Howard performance that did plenty to dispel worries about just how fully the veteran had recovered from the groin injury that ended his 2016 season:

"I felt good," Howard said. "I've been training for a while. And made sure I ticked all the boxes to get to this point. So there was no hesitation on my part."

And would this game and one more possible MLS game be enough to have him ready for U.S. coach Bruce Arena's national team camp next week?

"We'll see ... I still wait for the emails ... That's a question for Bruce."