Tim "The Secretary of Defense" Howard's immense performance against Belgium at the World Cup is something that is still exhausting just to think about over a month later, so it should come as no surprise that he has announced a well deserved year-long break from international play. Not retirement, just a break. He will continue to play for Everton and work with NBC's broadcast team on Premier League matches (in which he's not playing) during that period.
From the Washington Post:
In a prepared statement distributed by the U.S. Soccer Federation, Howard said: “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. I am grateful for the willingness of both [U.S. 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.”
There's never a bad time to focus on one's family, but this sabbatical comes at a particularly good time, as it gives Klinsmann a chance to evaluate more than capable second choice goalkeeper Brad Guzan at the start of a new World Cup cycle. Since Howard will be 39 years old when the 2018 World Cup rolls around, a better understanding of all the team's goalkeeping options will be necessary as retirement and possible changes in that position's hierarchy will be looming.
Howard's decision is not without precedent, either. Landon Donovan, who recently announced his retirement from the game, took a break in 2013 that proved stupidly controversial before returning to lead the U.S. to a Gold Cup title that summer. It was believed that Donovan's sabbatical contributed to Klinsmann's decision to leave him out of the World Cup squad, but it seems unlikely that Howard would suffer the same fate. At least at this pont.
Anyway, you have a one-year break from facing Tim Howard at the international level, strikers of the world. Enjoy it while you can.
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