Howard takes a break
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is to take a break from international football for the next year but is not ready to call time on his career with the United States yet.
The 35-year-old attained hero status in his homeland during the World Cup, making a tournament record 15 saves as the United States took Belgium to extra-time before losing 2-1 in the knockout stages.
In a statement released on Thursday via his Facebook page and US Soccer, Howard said he was keen to spend more time with his family but does not want to retire yet - something United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann is willing to accept.
"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 said: "We had a very good and productive conversation. 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 we always see performing well, he will be welcomed back with open arms and right back competing for a spot. He knows he has to prove that he deserves to be back."
Howard's appearances in Brazil this summer took him to 104 caps, the most of all-time by an American goalkeeper.
Taking a year out will cost him the chance to feature in eight friendlies as well as the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and once he returns he will likely face a fight to regain a spot which Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan will be the favourite to inherit. Real Salt Lake's 35-year-old goalkeeper Nick Rimando was the third goalkeeper taken to Brazil.
"This gives us a huge opportunity to see Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando going forward and fighting for the No. 1 spot," Klinsmann added.
"We have young talented goalkeepers with Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid, who have been brought along the last couple of 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."