As goalkeeper, Tim Howard represents the last line of defense. He blocks shots that rocket towards him at more than 60 miles per hour, reports CBS News' Elaine Quijano.
Howard, a New Jersey native and one of America's best-known soccer stars, said he feels the pressure.
"But pressure is good though, you know," Howard said. "It allows you to realize you are a part of something special."
No tournament is more special in soccer than the World Cup, and by now, the 35-year-old is a veteran, having participated in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. This one, however, may be his toughest test yet, with team USA facing what pundits have called the "group of death."
Howard is looked upon as a leader, a kind of general on the soccer field, identifying holes in his team's defense and rallying his fellow players to plug them.
He described his style on the field as "aggressive."
"I've toned it down a little bit since I've gotten older, I've become more a student of the game," Howard said. "Certainly I think there has to be aggression and passion."
On the soccer fields of New Jersey, Tim Mulqueen was Howard's youth coach and recognized his athletic skill early on, but what really separated Howard from other players was his passion and focus.
"Even at a young age, at 12, 13, 14, he was different," Mulqueen said. "He was better than the kids older than him. He was athletically gifted. Soccer-wise, he was coming into his own. So we knew that if he stayed the course, and continued to develop, that he would be special today, and he's lived up to that."
His skills landed him a job with Major League Soccer's Metrostars. Just six years later, he was recruited to play in the prestigious English premier league first by Manchester United, now for Everton, where he faces some of the best players in the world.
Howard said he has a love-hate relationship with the game.
"I hate losing, but I love winning, and I think what I love most about the game now is trying to figure out a way to win or try and figure out how to get a team of people to win for me is amazing," he said.