Tim Howard to take year-long break from USMNT competition

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

U.S. Men’s National Team keeper and one-time Metrostar Tim Howard faced a barrage of shots during a memorable World Cup run.

After playing hero to a nation, he is looking to take a deserved break from the action.

After discussing his thoughts with USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann, Howard has ruled himself out of international selection until September of next year — a decision that takes him out of next year’s Gold Cup tournament.

“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 the 35-year-old Howard in a USSF 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.”

Unlike the unexpected sabbatical of Landon Donovan, Klinsmann has been in talks with Howard about an international break and is on board with his request.

“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 reevaluate.

“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.”

“Jurgen has always been up front with all the players in saying you have to earn your place,” Howard said, “which is something I agree with, so I look forward to coming back next fall and competing for a spot.”

Howard has earned more caps (104) and victories (55) than any other keeper in U.S. history. His absence will open the door for Klinsmann to test his goalkeeping pool over the coming year, which will include as many as eight friendlies and the aforementioned Gold Cup competition.

“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.”

Life-after-Howard begins this September as the U.S. faces the Czech Republic in Prague on September 3rd.


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