Tim Howard, who played a pivotal role in getting the USA Men’s National Soccer Team into Round 16 of this year’s FIFA World Cup, has decided to take a yearlong break from the team. The goalkeeper announced Thursday that he has decided to take this break so he could 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,” Howard said in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. He will not be removed from international competition or his Everton duties in the English Premier League and plans on rejoining the USA team next fall. “I totally understand Tim’s situation,” United States Coach Jürgen Klinsmann said in the release. “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.” Howard’s break will only amount to him missing a handful of exhibition games and next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup for the National team. Even though the chance of losing his starting spot, one he’s had since 2007, becomes more realistic now that he has decided to step away, Howard is still confident in his decision. “I’ve been scared to death about losing my place for the last 10 years. That’s an ongoing battle every day. That doesn’t change if you take time off, that’s the same,” Howard said. “I will play for the national team if I’m playing lights-out for Everton and I’m the best goalkeeper. Nothing will change that, that’s how it works.” The National Team and the fans will get their first glimpse of things without their star goalkeeper in a friendly match against the Czech Republic September 3rd in Prague.
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