Over the last three weeks, we have looked at how the defenders, midfielders, and forwards for the Colorado Rapids performed in 2018. Some were able to put together decent seasons even with the team being poor overall, while others were the reason the team ended up at the bottom of the Western Conference. For this final installment of the player reviews, we turn to the goalkeepers.
The 39-year-old accounts for basically this whole article considering he played in all but one game this season. Overall, the Rapids DP goalie started all 33 games he played in, logging 2,900 minutes and six clean sheets. The only game he missed was due to a red card suspension after he committed a hand ball outside the box against RSL in April.
Another noteworthy stat was that Howard was third in the league with 119 saves (a little over 3.5 per game). Sadly, that is only due to the Rapids giving up a lot of shots, because Howard was only 10th in save percentage at 66.9%. For reference, the league leader was Stefan Frei at 78.1% and the worst (for a keeper who played at least 75% of games) was San Jose’s Andrew Tarbell at 57.2%.
It was a bit of an up and down year for Tim Howard. He started the season pretty shaky, and many people began calling for him to be benched in favor of Zac MacMath. As the season wore on, Howard started to play a little better and probably finished the season as an above-average MLS keeper. Sadly, Howard is the only goalie DP in the league and the most expensive player on the Rapids roster, so “above average” is still below expectations.*
It is probably true that he is better than MacMath, but at the same time is another player we can add to the “too expensive for their return” list. He let a lot of goals in. He seems to be the reason the Rapids played a pointless friendly in Memphis in the middle of the season. And now he has a new Champions League studio gig. Even his strong and vocal on-field leadership seemed to constantly fall on deaf ears this season, as defenders never seemed to be doing what he wanted them to.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing I would notice when I watched him was how quick he tried to play this year. Almost every time he got the ball via goal kicks or saves he would try to get it back in play ASAP. I didn’t have that much of a problem with it until it started to seem forced. Many times he would play a quick goal kick and the ball would almost immediately end up coming back at him. The same would happen if he tried to throw the ball out immediately after grabbing a cross or soft shot. I have no idea if this was something Hudson tried to get him to do or if he has always been like that I never noticed since it worked before, but it just seemed careless with the ball all too often.
On the flip side, the most impressive thing about Howard came when he would take over a game like he used to do so often. Looking at his game log, there were 10 games in which he recorded seven saves or more. Perhaps the two most notable were the horrific RSL game when he recorded 13 (even if we let up 6 goals) and the game in Vancouver at the beginning of July when he recorded 10 saves and a clean sheet in a 1-0 win.
To sum it all up, Howard had a season where, at times, he seemed washed up and old, but at other times he would remind us that he is still the Secretary of Defense. In the end, however, he probably averaged out to a very expensive, slightly above-average MLS keeper.
Season Grade: C+
*Howard being the reason we have a jersey sponsorship does make it a little tricker to actually calculate if he is worth his salary, but this article is looking purely at his play on the field.
MacMath only made two MLS appearances on the season. The first came when he finished the game in which Howard got the red card, and the second was Howard’s suspension. In those two games, he allowed five goals.
MacMath has shown that he really is a solid MLS keeper, but he struggles to see the field when he is stuck behind Howard. Hopefully, he is willing to stay until Howard retires so that he can take the reins after that, but I always fear he will move since I believe he could start on a lot of MLS teams right now if he wanted.
Season Grade: N/A
Dykstra spent most of the season on loan in Charlotte. The veteran keeper was not re-signed at the end of the season and is currently out of contract.
Season Grade: N/A
Any other thoughts? Throw it in the comments section!