JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The lone fan in the blue U.S. Soccer T-shirt looked woefully out of place surrounded by dozens of England supporters - until he turned around.

Of course. Tim Howard's name was emblazoned across his shoulders.

At home and abroad, Howard's athleticism, unshakable confidence and leadership have won the Everton goalkeeper rave reviews. And despite being "in agony" from bruised - maybe broken - ribs, he made six saves to seal the Americans' 1-1 draw with England on Saturday night at the World Cup.

"He's an outstanding success," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who brought Howard to the English Premier League in 2003, said recently. "We're delighted, because I love the lad. Good lad."

U.S. coach Bob Bradley said Sunday that Howard would be re-evaluated after his full-speed collision with Emile Heskey. However, he expects him to play Friday against Slovenia, which took the lead in Group C by beating Algeria yesterday.

"He did a great job of taking a tough hit, and staying in it and playing really well," Bradley said. "When you see the way Timmy handled himself after the collision last night, you'd certainly expect he'll be on the field again."

There's a certain steeliness that sets great keepers apart from merely very good ones, and few are stronger than Howard, clearly the cornerstone of the U.S. team.

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Howard is a commanding presence in goal, and not simply because of his size (listed at 6-3, 210 pounds). With his shaved head and a ferocity that is palpable, the sight of him charging forward is enough to make any opponent hesitate.

His teammates aren't immune to his intensity, either. Howard is constantly shouting instructions at fellow Americans or screaming to make corrections. There is little time or room for niceties in the chaos of a game, and time and again Saturday night, the cameras caught him in full-throated roar.

Asked about England midfielder Steven Gerrard's goal just four minutes into the game, Howard was unsparing.

"I was pretty annoyed because the marking was a little too lax," he said. "Particularly for the beginning of a game when you're supposed to be really up for it."

Such bluntness is easily forgiven by his teammates. Unlike some countries, the Americans know they're in good hands whenever Howard is around. He doesn't have bad games - "Tim's just Mr. Consistent," midfielder Clint Dempsey said - and has bailed them out more times than they can count.

The Americans have won 31 of his 52 appearances, including last year's upset of top-ranked Spain in the Confederations Cup, and advanced to their first final at a FIFA event. Howard was so stellar that he was awarded the Golden Glove as the cup's best keeper.

"In these tournaments, you need a good goalkeeper," U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo said. "So we're very, very happy Tim's on our side."

In the 29th minute Saturday, the sprinting Heskey slammed into Howard, the studs of his shoes catching the American squarely in the chest. Howard writhed in pain on the ground.

He grimaced several times when play finally resumed and needed a painkiller at halftime, yet time and again he saved the Americans in the second half, at one point leaping to punch a shot by Frank Lampard back and over the crossbar.

"I'll be even more sore the next couple days, but maybe it'll get me out of training," Howard said after the game.