The LA Galaxy took a winter sabbatical to Cambodia to get away from the game as he reassessed his playing future.
But Donovan is now back to his best, scoring a vital goal in Tuesday night's 2-0 win over Mexico which sent the US to the 2014 World Cup, with Howard revealing he knew something like this would happen.
"We said that when he was in Cambodia hiking or wherever the hell he was," the Everton gloveman said of Donovan's undoubted comeback.
"He's a guy that when he's on the field puts fear in the opponent. We've got some guys up front, and you can't double down on Deuce (Clint Dempsey) and you can't mark him out of the game when you have worry about Landon.
"He's one of these guys who gives you a seven or eight out of 10 every game."