United States goalkeeper Tim Howard has announced that he will take a sabbatical from international duty until September 2015.
Howard, 35, has not retired from the national team but wants to take time off to be with his family as he enters the twilight of his career.
The Everton keeper starred at this year’s World Cup as the US reached the tournament’s last 16.
But Howard feels his call to step away from the team and prioritise his family is the “right decision at the right time”.
“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,” Howard said in a statement.
“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…and competing for a spot.”
Howard, who has won 104 caps for the US, could miss as many as eight friendlies as well as the entirety of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
US coach Klinsmann said he had no issues with Howard’s decision but warned him that he would face a fight to win his spot as first-choice goalkeeper back.
“We had a very good and productive conversation,” Klinsmann said.
“I totally understand Tim’s situation. He was very straightforward 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 welcome back with open arms and right back competing for a spot.
“He knows that he has to prove that he deserves to be back.”
Klinsmann anointed the likes of Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando as potential replacements for Howard.
The US next play a friendly against the Czech Republic on September 2.
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