USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is still sizing up much of his FIFA World Cup™ talent, but he has no doubts about goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Klinsmann, overseeing a pre-World Cup training camp including 30 players at Stanford University in Palo Alto, said the veteran 'keeper, who plays for Everton in the English Premier League, is among the top five in the world.
"He, I think, was in the top three of the Premier League this year, and I look at him as the top five in the world," Klinsmann said in remarks posted on MLSSoccer.com.
Klinsmann said Howard was at a point in his career where he could stamp his mark on a World Cup.
"I think there is something special waiting for Tim (in Brazil), that he hopefully makes that his special moment," Klinsmann said.
In April the 35-year-old Howard inked a contract extension with Everton that will keep him at the Premier League club until 2018.
Howard will be playing in his third World Cup. He served as back-up to Kasey Keller at the 2006 World Cup and was the starting 'keeper in 2010 in South Africa. The United States are drawn in Group G along with Ghana, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2010 edition, UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finalists Portugal and one of the favourites for the trophy, Germany. They will kick off their campaign on 16 June against Ghana.
Prior to departing for Brazil, the team will play three warm-up friendlies, taking on Azerbaijan on 27 May at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Turkey on 1 June in Harrison, New Jersey, and Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, on 7 June.