American goalkeeper Tim Howard, Team USA’s World Cup hero and inspiration for awesome Internet memes, announced Thursday that he will step away from the U.S. men’s national team for at least one year to spend time with his family. Although he did not yet officially announce his retirement from international duties, the 35 year old will not be part of next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
After sitting down with coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Howard removed himself from the U.S. goalie consideration until September 2015, citing reasons that he had missed out on quality family time after playing the last 12 years in the English Premier League. Until then, he will continue playing for his club, Everton F.C., and be the color commentator for a handful of Premier League games for NBC. The 2018 World Cup is still a possibility for Howard, though he will be 39 years old by the time the tournament kicks off.
When Howard does report back for international duty, his starting spot will not be guaranteed. Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando, who holds the MLS record for shutouts, remains one of the best keepers in Major League Soccer. World Cup backup and Aston Villa star Brad Guzan is Klinsmann’s younger option, who continues to improve each year as a starter in the Premier League. A lot can happen in the next 12 months, MLS up-and-comers Sean Johnson of the Chicago Fire and Bill Hamid of D.C. United may also earn their stripes onto Klinsmann’s starting 11.
While Everton is based in Liverpool, England, Howard’s children Ali and Jacob live with his ex-wife on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in Tennessee. He has already played in 104 international games for the United States; his 105th won’t be for a while. His absence leaves Klinsmann in a small debacle, though he stated that he fully supports Howard’s decision to not miss out on some quality family time.