Tim Howard should return stateside and sign with an MLS club.
It not only is best for American soccer, but more importantly, it is what is best for him.
Let's begin with its impact on American soccer.
Howard is one of the most recognizable faces for the national team, and one of its most beloved players. Yet, the majority of fans stateside only get to see his mug in those few choice games. They do not actively hunt down Everton games just to watch Howard play.
It would be a feather in the cap of the MLS to nab not only one of soccer's best keepers, but also one of the most popular American soccer stars.
As the MLS continues to grow its fan base, it is important to grab every star available. The David Beckham and Thierry Henry signings illustrate this point well. In spite of these guys being past their prime, it was important that the MLS brought them over.
It bolsters the image of the league. That, in turn, excites the youth to watch and pick up the game. It is a ripple effect that could lead to more American-bred soccer stars in the decades to come. The growth of the MLS' is important to the future success of U.S. Soccer.
Now, let's switch gears and talk about why this is a good move for Howard.
Howard is no spring chicken. He is 34 years old. Making the move to the MLS will undoubtedly help him in his later years, but the wear and tear on his body has taken its toll. Howard is currently sidelined after breaking two bones in his back.
While he has been between the posts virtually non-stop, that would change if he played in the MLS. His stature would give him more control, meaning he would be able to take time away and rest when he needs. With the 2014 World Cup potentially looming for the national team, that should be his focus.
Howard has made more than 40 appearances at the club level on top of his national team duties in each of the past five seasons. In 2009-2010, he appeared in more than 50 matches for Everton, but as his career enters its final stages, he needs to lessen his workload.
The return to the MLS would be a mutually beneficial move that could prolong his career and be a win-win for everyone. He can help the league continue its domestic growth and be back home. Meanwhile he would have more control and leverage in his return.
Is it a must that he comes back? No, but it would ultimately be the right career move and it is time for one of the most prominent members of the national team to come home.