Tim Howard says his MLS debut “can’t come soon enough” after he was introduced as a new Colorado Rapids player on Tuesday – and said he was motivated to continue playing because he was “scared to death of failure”.

Howard, 37, announced in March that he was leaving Everton to return to MLS, and said he could make his debut on Monday against the Timbers. Following a full Premier League season, Howard joined up with the US national team for the Copa America this month, and played in the third-placed playoff against Colombia. It meant that Howard has not had a proper off-season for three years, but he said he wasn’t interested in taking a break.

“This will ultimately be an 18-month season for me,” Howard said. “Pablo [Mastroeni] and I spoke quite a lot over the last couple of weeks and I didn’t really want a vacation. I just want to get out there.

“It’s what I do, it’s where I’m happiest. The sooner I can get on the field, the better. It’s been a long time coming just because of the way the seasons are structured both here in MLS and abroad.”

Howard spent nearly a decade at Everton after joining them from Manchester United in the summer of 2006. He joined United from the Metrostars in 2003.

“Everton is always in my heart, it’s the club I spent 10 years at. But it’s a new chapter, a new challenge, it’s something I’m hungry for here,” Howard said. “England was great for me, it was hard work, but nothing good is every easy. I’ve got fond memories, great friends. It’s where my children were born and there’s a lot of great things about what has happened over the last 13 years in England.

“I’ll be retired for a lot longer, so I’ll have time to look back. Right now, I’m hungry, I’m excited, I love to compete, I love to play and it can’t come soon enough.”

Howard also said that he retained a burning desire to compete, despite losing his place to Joel Robles in the Everton team last year.

“I’m scared to death of failure,” Howard admitted. “I represent myself when I go out there and what I mean to each team that I play for, and I’m just fearful of ever letting one of those teams down. That drives me. In reality I think that drives every player. It’s not money, it’s nothing else, it’s the pressure to pull your own weight and be a good teammate and win games.”

Pablo Mastroeni, the Rapids head coach, called Howard “a mid-season gift” as his team pursue a Western Conference title. They sit atop the standings, having lost just two games all season.

“Now we have a guy that’s proven. We have a guy that’s an outstanding character off the field, on the field,” Mastroeni said. “He holds himself to the highest standard that you can in football, he embodies everything that we want here at this club from a drive perspective, a ‘put your arm around a young guy’ perspective. A guy that’s going to push this group to where we want to go which is the playoffs and beyond this year.”

This article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 29th June 2016 17.00 Europe/London

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