Jurgen Klinsmann's men are outsiders to progress to the knockout stages after been drawn with Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G.
The US reached the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, only to lose to Ghana 2-1 after extra time.
Having claimed three straight wins in their pre-tournament warm-up games, they should head into next Monday's encounter against Kwesi Appiah's side with confidence.
And Howard, who earned his 100th cap for his country in the 2-1 friendly victory over Nigeria last Saturday, is keen for the US to continue their winning run and avenge their 2010 exit.
"The friendlies have had their good and bad. It's always good to win," Howard told FIFA.com.
"But there are lessons to learn and we need to focus on them. The reason we play these games is to see what's going wrong, so we don't ignore the problems.
"If we're not there yet, we need to know it now so that when the Ghana game gets here we've got everything clicking.
"The goal is to put our heads down and break out of the cage in the first game against Ghana.
"It's crucial for any team to get something from that first game. The importance can't be overstated.
"You win that game and you get a feel-good factor working; get some momentum. We don't want to play catch-up in the group stages. We don't want to be biting our fingernails in that third game and hoping some other team can do us a favour."
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