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Said Hamid: “Everything he says to me in terms of motivation and focusing and working on my game, I take every single thing and I put it in my pocket and remind myself daily what it takes to be the best.”

Come August, Howard will set his sights on getting off to a “gangbusting start” with Everton in hopes the Toffees can spend this season competing for one of the Champions League berths awarded to the top four EPL finishers.

Howard also has long-term goals — namely, playing his part as the U.S. builds toward the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Even though last month’s Gold Cup concluded with the U.S. suffering a 4-2 loss to rival Mexico in the final, a stinging result Howard said is still on his mind, the veteran was encouraged by his team’s performances in the tournament and feels ready to help the U.S. qualify for its seventh straight World Cup.

“We at the moment are playing better soccer, better football, in terms of just our style,” Howard said. “We’ve built a lot in the past six months, and I think our passing and our ability to go forward in the Gold Cup was a testament to that. So the next thing on the horizon is to make sure we’re focused and prepared to enter World Cup qualifying.”