WASHINGTON -- Tim Howard will have to wait until after next month's massive Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico for his chance to return to the United States' starting lineup.
That's the clear message from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who told reporters on Wednesday that Brad Guzan will start the Oct. 10 match against El Tri at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
"Brad is the No. 1. Tim is the No. 2," Klinsmann reiterated two days before the U.S. will face Peru in a friendly at RFK stadium. "Once we've got the Mexico game hopefully successfully out of the way, then we can think about how we can split maybe some time. But now it's really about getting consistency with the players and getting a job done in October."
Howard is back with the national team for the first time in 14 months, since his record performance in a 2-1 loss to Belgium in the second round of last summer's World Cup in Brazil. The following month, he announced that he would take a year-long sabbatical from international play in order to spend more time with his two young children.
"I've missed it," Howard said of being with the national team just before the U.S. trained in the nation's capital on Wednesday. "I took a year out for my own reasons -- for the right reasons -- and one of those reasons wasn't because I lost my passion."
Klinsmann said that Howard accepted the No. 2 role, but Howard bristled when asked by ESPN how he would approach being a backup after being a starter for the U.S. and club side Everton for most of the last decade.
"I've never been a backup," he said. "I think that's a mentality. I work my tail off every day I know what it means to compete at the highest level, to have a certain level of excellence and I do that. I've never been a backup and I never will be."
Howard declined to reveal details of his conversations with Klinsmann. But the 36-year-old has been in fine from for the Toffees through the first four games of the Premier League season. He's kept two clean sheets, and his 20 saves are second-most in the Prem, four fewer than Newcastle's Tim Krul. He made 42 appearances in all competitions in 2014-15
"I feel good," he said. "Had a great preseason -- my first full preseason in over a decade -- so I feel fit and ready."
Howard insisted that being a No. 2 won't alter his outlook.
"Nothing changes for me, honestly," he said. "I'll do what I've always done: come in, train hard and keep myself fit and ready and when the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it."