Tim Howard has hailed Wayne Rooney as the best striker in the world but believes that USA's own forwards can trouble England in their FIFA World Cup™ opener in Rustenburg on Saturday.
Howard has first-hand experience of Rooney from their two years together at Manchester United before he moved to Everton in 2006 after the signing of Edwin van der Sar. He has immense respect for the 24-year-old who is pivotal to England's hopes of doing themselves justice in South Africa during the next month.
But Howard has also been impressed by the current USA front pair of Edson Buddle and Robert Findley who looked sharp during the weekend victory over Australia in Johannesburg. Howard said: "I get asked if I am looking forward to facing Wayne Rooney. I don't think I ever look forward to facing Wayne Rooney.
"He is the best striker in the world and has enjoyed a fantastic season. He is a fantastic player, so I'll be very careful what I say! But we also have Edson and Robbie who are playing fantastic together, individuallly and collectively, with the way they are linking up.
"They looked dangerous against Australia and hopefully they will be dangerous for a few more games coming up. It seems everything Edson touches is a goal and Robbie is creating so many chances. It is important the guys are clicking for what is basically a three-game tournament [to qualify] - and those guys are at the moment."
Howard is disappointed that another former United team-mate in England skipper Rio Ferdinand will miss the tournament through his knee ligament injury suffered in training on Friday. But he is confident Fabio Capello's side will recover from this setback in time for the USA clash.
Howard, 31, said: "I am devastated for Rio as I am sure most of his team-mates and his friends are. I don't know how it will affect the team but I think they are all very strong characters. As the week goes on, I am sure they will be fully prepared for the game ahead."
Howard has taken heart from the gradual improvement in the USA side during their build-up to the finals. He said: "I saw an improvement from the Czech game, I saw an improvement to the Turkey game and again in the Australia game. I think it is still a work in progress and we are trying to get better.
"There have been some huge positives. We are hoping things are starting to click, we feel good about our last couple of results. Training has been good and we are in a very positive spirit."