Tim Howard was full of high praise for his USA teammates after they held Russia to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.
The US finished the 2012 calendar year with a positive performance in Krasnodar, which took their yearly record to nine wins, three draws and two losses from 14 matches, prompting approval from the Everton gloveman.
"We only had two losses, a bunch of wins, some really hard-fought draws and we topped the group [in World Cup qualifying]," Howard told ussoccer.com.
"It was a really fantastic year. It's not something to be ashamed of, it's a really good, positive year for this group."
He added regarding the Russia result, which came after trailing on two occasions: "It's a strong group in terms of personality and character. We know we've got a lot of fight and a lot of heart.
"We're still a pretty young team and we need to grow and get better and we will. At this level little mistakes cost. The good teams play a nearly perfect 90 minutes and that's what we're trying to do."