United States goalie Tim Howard will take a one-year break from international competition.
Howard made the announcement on U.S. Soccer's official website on Aug. 21:
"Three-time FIFA World Cup veteran Tim Howard has asked to take a break from duties with the U.S. Men's National Team until next fall, and after discussions with U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann the Everton goalkeeper will not be considered for selection to the U.S. roster until September of 2015.
"Howard is not retiring from international play. The decision is driven mainly by the desire to spend more time with his family.
"'Having played overseas for the last 12 years and missing out on spending time with my family, making this commitment to my family is very important at this time,' said Howard. 'I am grateful for the willingness of both Jurgen Klinsmann and Everton manager Roberto Martinez to afford me the opportunity to spend time with my kids. It's the right decision at the right time. Jurgen has always been up front with all the players in saying you have to earn your place, which is something I agree with, so I look forward to coming back next fall and competing for a spot.'
"Klinsmann and Howard had extensive conversations prior to the decision, and the U.S. coach is supportive of the approach.
"'We had a very good and productive conversation,' said Klinsmann. 'I totally understand Tim's situation. He was very straight forward and honest in his approach, and I admire him for that. He has a wish to take a step back to take care of his family, and we came to the conclusion that it's absolutely fine that he takes time off from international soccer until after next summer's Gold Cup, and then we re-evaluate.
"'I told him as long as he is the same Tim Howard that we always see performing well, he will be welcomed back with open arms and right back competing for a spot. He knows that he has to prove that he deserves to be back.'
"Howard will miss as many as eight friendly matches as well as the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, giving Klinsmann the chance to see other goalkeepers in action. He will continue in his starting role for Everton of the English Premier League, which is now the in the second week of the 2014-15 season that runs through May.
"Howard has amassed 104 caps and is the USA's all-time leader for goalkeepers in appearances and wins (55). The 35-year-old has played every minute for the United States in the last two FIFA World Cups. In Brazil this past summer, he twice earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors, including the 2-2 draw against Portugal and the Round of 16 game against Belgium in which he posted a World Cup-record 15 saves.
Team USA superstar Tim Howard is taking a break. But will get his job back? Uh... we hope so. http://t.co/fG9SZLfQub— @TheBuzzer (@TheBuzzeronFOX) August 21, 2014
"'This gives us a huge opportunity to see Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando going forward and fighting for the No. 1 spot,' said Klinsmann. 'We have young talented goalkeepers with Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid, who have been brought along the last couple years, so this may give them a chance here and there to get some game time. Always when somebody steps aside for a moment, it gives an opportunity for the next ones in line.'"
Howard told USSoccer.com he is still physically and mentally fit at the age of 35. He also added he is willing to play in another World Cup, but will just have to wait and see how things fall in place:
"Physically and mentally I feel as strong as ever. I'm also 35 years old and it's four years before the next World Cup. If I want to be able to get to the next World Cup, I also have to be smart about managing my body. I will get a bit of extra time off during the international windows, and this will be the first real summer break that I have had in 12 years.
"Right now my heart, mind and body all say yes, but it's difficult to predict the situation in four years. I will always be upfront about my intentions, and of course the manager has to select you. I am fully committed to the cause, and it's important to me that my teammates understand that."
Howard added there is no assurance he is a lock for the No. 1 spot at goalkeeper upon his return, per USSoccer.com:
"Absolutely not. Jurgen has always been upfront with all the players in saying you have to earn your place, which is something I agree with. Every player makes their own choices for their own reasons. In my case, this is a decision for my family. For me, it's important that my teammates and my coaches have a clear understanding of where I'm coming from.
"I hope by now they know what I am about. I've had honest conversations with Jurgen and Roberto Martinez, and I appreciate their understanding. It doesn't change the fact that I have to earn my spot, and I look forward to doing that."