Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - United States men's national team goalkeeper Tim Howard announced on Thursday he will take an extended hiatus from international competition.
Howard, who starred for the men's team at the World Cup in Brazil as he turned in a 16-save performance in a knockout-round 2-1 defeat against Belgium, is not retiring from international play, but will not be available for selection until September 2015.
Howard said the decision to step aside is driven 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 (U.S. head coach) 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."
"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."
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 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).