Yesterday, Memphis 901 FC announced that they will be signing Tim Howard, a former World Cup goalie with over 20 years of experience as a professional soccer player, on to the team just three days before their home opener.
This, however, is not his first or even second involvement with the team. He will now become a teammate to the very players he manages.
In the fall of 2018, Howard was reported to join the newest team in the United Soccer League Championship (USL) as a minority owner. A year later in the winter of 2019, 901 FC announced Howard would become the new general manager.
In their debut season, Memphis finished 15th in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 9-7-18. San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Fresno are just a few of the teams in the USL that had a turnaround season in their second year as a franchise by reaching and for some, going deep into the playoffs.
Marc Burch, veteran defender for Memphis, said they are just as capable of doing the same thing as any other team.
"You learn a lot of stuff as a first year franchise," Burch said. "As a staff, bringing in Tim (as General Manager) is huge. The difference between Tim and who was picking the players and making decisions last year is a huge difference. You can tell now that as a team, the guys we kept... and brought in are going to make an impact. I have no doubt we will have a better record than last year."
This will be Howard's first game back since he retired from professional soccer in October 2019. He is most known for his time spent as the goalkeeper for the United States in the 2006, 2010 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
As the winner of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Glove Award, Howard is also a two-time Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup winner as well as a three-time CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year.
Memphis has their first game of the 2020 season this Saturday against Indy Eleven. In their two matchups last season, they were beaten 3-0 in both games. Head Coach Tim Mulqueen, who discovered Howard and took him under his wing in the early 90's, said this season is a clean slate.
"We have a new team, they have a new team," Mulqueen said. "It's a whole new season, and what happened last year doesn't affect anything that happens this year. There is 17 teams in our division that are all really good, so no, we don't circle any teams on our calendar."
Howard is expected to retain his front office role while also playing on the field. There is no confirmation as to whether he will have playing time, but for 901 FC fans there is yet another reason to be ecstatic for this team and season.