Tim Howard is taking a break from international soccer, but he's not retiring quite yet.
US Soccer announced on Thursday that the World Cup veteran would not be considered for national team duty until September 2015:
Howard's hiatus from international play would preclude his involvement in up to eight USMNT friendly matches and next summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"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 in a statement. "I am grateful for the willingness of both [USMNT 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."
Klinsmann said the decision was made with his blessing, and after extensive talks between him and Howard.
"We had a very good and productive conversation," said Klinsmann in a statement. "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 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."
The 35-year-old Howard, who got his start in MLS with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and also featured for Manchester United, will continue to feature for his club side, Everton, where he currently holds down the starting job.
At the international level, Howard has started the past two World Cups for the US, playing every minute in each, and he is also the USMNT's all-time leader for goalkeepers in appearances (104) and wins (55). His absence from the team over the next year will give Klinsmann a chance to extensively evaluate the rest of the goalkeeping pool.
"This gives us a huge opportunity to see Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando going forward and fighting for the No. 1 spot," Klinsmann said. "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."