Brad Guzan on being U.S. team's No. 1: 'I'm ready for that responsibility'

Brad Guzan said he is excited by the prospect of establishing himself as the No.1 goalkeeper in the U.S. national team side and believes the rise of Jurgen Klinsmann's team could see them emerge as genuine contenders at the next World Cup finals.

Aston Villa keeper Guzan faces the challenge of vying to be the new U.S. first pick following the decision of Tim Howard to "take a break" from the international game to focus his attentions on his club career with Everton. And he is relishing the prospect of stepping up to the high-profile role.

Guzan's fine form in a struggling Villa side should give him a chance to become Klinsmann's first choice keeper for the foreseeable future, and it is a prospect that thrills the 30-year-old stopper.

"There is an opportunity for me to try and establish myself as the No.1 in the U.S. side and I feel I am ready for that responsibility," Guzan told ESPN FC.

"I see it as exciting rather than daunting to be the U.S.'s No.1 because I have been playing regularly in the Premier League for a few years, up against the best strikers in the world on a weekly basis, and that has prepared me for the challenge of international football.

"I was delighted to be part of the last two U.S. World Cup squads and it was a great experience, but you want to be more than just the guy waiting to get an opportunity to play. You are there to help the team in any way you can, but the chance to be the first choice goalkeeper means I have a real target to aim at now."

Guzan suggests the excitement generated by the the Americans' performances at the World Cup finals in Brazil last summer has fueled expectations around the team moving forward, but he is keen to encourage ambitions for the future.

"Of course it is realistic to believe a U.S. team could be challenging in the latter stages of a World Cup finals next time, maybe getting to a quarterfinals or semifinals," he said.

"When you get into these big tournaments, you need a combination of luck and quality to plot a route through the competition. Things need to go your way at the crucial moments and in the end against Belgium last summer, we just came up short.

"What we showed in Brazil was that anything is possible for the U.S. team. We have some big opportunities on our horizon with the 2015 Gold Cup and the 2016 Copa America being played on American soil. And even though the next World Cup feels like it is a long way off at this stage, these next three years are vital to the future of the national team. "We were all encouraged by what happened in Brazil last summer both from a sporting perspective and the mood of the public around the team. It wasn't just sports fans who started to support our efforts, it was celebrities, politicians and the collective nation.

"In many ways, supporting a U.S. national team is not something we are used to in American sporting culture. We have a team representing the nation in basketball every four years at the Olympics and the mood was similar around the soccer team last summer, which was great to see.

"Soccer is a unique sport in our country so many ways as it has space for club sides and national teams within its structure and I think the American people appreciated how exciting it could be last summer. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come."