SAN JOSE, Calif. -- United States goalkeeper Tim Howard says that 18-year-old teammate Christian Pulisic has improved in the four months that have passed since the two last trained together.
Pulisic is back with the U.S. squad ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifying match against Honduras and another in Panama City on March 28. It's the first time the Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been with his national team since November, when he was on the field for qualifying losses to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Pulisic has taken on a bigger role for Dortmund since. He started at Real Madrid in December when BVB won their Champions League group over the Spanish giants. And he recorded three goals in five games across all competitions heading into this month's international break, including a game-winning strike against Benfica that put his club into the Champions League quarterfinals.
"His sharpness, his technique, his runs are getting better and better," Howard told ESPN FC, when asked the difference between what he's seen from Pulisic in camp this week compared to late last year.
But Howard, who recently returned to action after injuring his groin early in the defeat to Mexico, has been more impressed by the youngster's off-field progress.
"He is maturing very quickly, which you would expect of someone who is in the spotlight like he is," Howard said.
"But he's also a good kid. He's a humble kid. He's quiet. From what I know he comes from a very good family, so he does his business very quietly. Although he's playing in the Champions League, he doesn't get too high.
"It's not like he comes in here pounding his chest."
Howard can probably relate to the Hershey, Pennsylvania product's rapid rise better than most American players. He was just 23 when Manchester United plucked him from MLS and made him their starting goalkeeper in 2003. Howard lost the job the following year and moved to Everton in 2006, where he spent a decade before moving to the Colorado Rapids last summer.
Pulisic made his first-team debut for Dortmund last year. And the way he has handled his early success is something Howard said he couldn't have done as a teenager.
"If I'd had that kind of success at that age," he said, "you'd have heard about it because I would've been shouting from the rooftops."
The 38-year-old Howard added that Pulisic could take on more attacking responsibility for the U.S. against Honduras and Panama than he did during the last set of qualifiers.
The Americans are sitting dead last among the six CONCACAF nations participating in the final Hexagonal round of qualifiers for next year's World Cup in Russia, and might need more offense from Pulisic.
"He's a guy of course that we're going to look to get on the ball and be kind of our link between the midfield and the strikers," Howard said. "He's got the ability to do it. The amount of workload is going to depend on him and how much he thrives on it."