US teammates have heaped praise on their Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Howard has been in fine fettle for the Stars and Stripes in 2008, keeping clean sheets in five out of six 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
"You can see how much he has grown in the past few years," USA midfielder Pablo Mastroeni said. "The way he leads a team, and talks to his defenders, and makes all the saves you need him to make. He has a confidence that teammates can feed off."
And far from catching the eye on the pitch, Howard has developed into a player his team-mates, and manager, can turn to off it.
"It's important that the team understands how we're improving and understands how to play in bigger games," USA coach Bob Bradley said. "I think the key has been some of the experienced guys. Timmy has played a very big role in terms of making sure that guys understand a little bit about what these tougher games are like."