United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Tim Howard will be the team's number one goalkeeper at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Howard had expected to battle it out with fellow Premier League shotstopper Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) for a spot in goal but the 35-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons in England.
The Everton goalkeeper kept 12 clean sheets as Roberto Martinez's men finished fifth in the Premier League, seven points shy of the final UEFA Champions League spot.
And while Klinsmann is still undecided on his final 23-man squad for the World Cup finals, he is already counting on the 97-cap veteran to lead the US in Brazil, where they will face Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G.
"Tim is important for us, because we have to figure out a couple of pieces still in the backline," Klinsmann told reporters at the team's training camp on Wednesday.
"I think there is something special waiting for Tim (at the World Cup), that he hopefully makes that his special moment.
"I think he is consistent over years, years, years now in the Premier League.
"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, and that is kind of a moment to catch, so make that World Cup your World Cup."
Klinsmann must cull seven players before the June 2 deadline, with international friendlies against Azerbaijan (May 27) and Turkey (June 1) scheduled beforehand, and the German tactician said he is getting a clearer indication of his final squad's shape.
"We see them a bit closer every day, in scrimmages and training exercises, we see little things that add up, so it gives us more and more information," he said.
"Every day is another day of you get more information on every individual, every single player.
"So that helps us, we exactly understand where they are right now in this moment, which is always very important, just a couple weeks away from the first game in Brazil."
USA will wrap up preparations on home soil against Nigeria on June 7 before flying out to Brazil ahead of their opening clash with Ghana on June 16.comments