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Q&A with U.S. MNT Goalkeeper Tim Howard

U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard said Thursday that he will be taking a break from MNT duties to spend additional time with his family. After a lengthy conversation with USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Howard vows to make himself available for selection starting in the fall of 2015. caught up with the star goalkeeper about this decision.

What prompted you to make this decision to take a year off from international duty?
Tim Howard: “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 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.” How do you feel physically at this stage of your career?
TH: “Physically and mentally I feel as strong as ever. I’m also 35 years old and it’s four years before the next World Cup. If I want to be able to get to the next World Cup, I also have to be smart about managing my body. I will get a bit of extra time off during the international windows, and this will also be the first real summer break that I have had in 12 years.” Do you want to play in another World Cup?
TH: “Right now my heart, mind and body all say yes, but it’s difficult to predict the situation in four years. I will always be upfront about my intentions, and of course the manager has to select you. I am fully committed to the cause, and it’s important to me that my teammates understand that.”

Have you been assured the No. 1 spot when you return?
TH: “Absolutely not. Jurgen has always been upfront with all the players in saying you have to earn your place, which is something I agree with. Every player makes their own choices for their own reasons. In my case, this is a decision for my family. For me, it’s important that my teammates and my coaches have a clear understanding of where I’m coming from. I hope by now they know what I am about. I’ve had honest conversations with Jurgen and Roberto Martinez, and I appreciate their understanding. It doesn’t change the fact that I have to earn my spot, and I look forward to doing that.”