Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan finding confidence with Jurgen Klinsmann's backing

Aston Villa's Brad Guzan

Despite a nightmare season at Villa, the US international will go into the Copa America Centenario as head coach Klinsmann's first-choice keeper over Tim Howard.

Aston Villa's Brad Guzan

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has told Goal USA how the faith US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has shown in him has helped him overcome his nightmare season with the claret and blues.

Guzan, 31, established himself as one of the Premier League’s leading keepers during his first two seasons as Villa’s full-time No. 1, but his form has taken a dramatic turn for the worst since the 2014-15 campaign.

The former MLS star, who joined the club from now-defunct Chivas USA in August 2008, has endured stinging criticism from fans after committing an increasing number of blunders and ended this past term on the bench after being dropped for the third time in the space of just 12 months.

Villa ultimately finished bottom of the table with just 17 points after winning only three of their 38 games and conceding a division-high 76 goals, and it now remains to be seen whether Guzan still has a future in B6 following their relegation.

Aston Villa's Brad Guzan, Ciaran Clark and teammates look dejected after Watford's third goal

At the same time, though, the 44-times capped stopper's US career has taken off over the past 18 months after spending the best part of a decade as Tim Howard’s backup, and he will now go into next month’s Copa America Centenario as the team’s No. 1 over his long-time international teammate.

Klinsmann resisted plenty of calls to give the job back to Howard, who took a year-long sabbatical from international football following the 2014 World Cup, and the Villa man is hoping to reward his manager's faith with an impressive Copa campaign.

"Having the backing of your coach means everything and I feel confident about where my game is, and how we feel as a group," Guzan told Goal USA. "It's a veteran group, and we've been together for a few years now, through different tournaments, and that experience is going to help us this summer.

“Considering my time with the club, to go through that, you take responsibility, but at the same time you understand what these types of seasons do to you as a player in terms of being strong enough mentally and physically to overcome these difficult times."

Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2015-07-14T042331Z_1144582097_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-GOLD-CUP-PANAMA-AT-USA.JPG

Guzan produced three solid performances in the USA’s warm-up friendlies against Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Bolivia over the past week, but he will face a tougher test when Klinsmann’s side kick off the Copa America against Group A rivals Colombia on 3 June at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

The group is widely considered the toughest in the tournament with Costa Rica and Paraguay making up the other two teams, but that has not stopped Klinsmann from setting his squad an ambitious target, citing a spot in the semi-final as the goal.

"We want to get to the final four. This is our goal,” he told ESPN FC earlier this week. “As you know, we drew the most difficult group, but we had a similar situation in Brazil [at the 2014 World Cup] and we made it out of the group.

“After the game against Belgium we said we have to learn to come through the knockout games. I hope that will be the learning curve for us at this Copa America, that we find a way to get though the group with these very difficult three opponents, but then when you get through the group you want go further. The goal then really is the final four."

Nevertheless, if the US are to fulfill Klinsmann's expectations, Guzan cannot afford to let his recent form for Villa resurface over the coming weeks.

Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2015-07-18T233333Z_1301234995_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-GOLD-CUP-USA-AT-CUBA.JPG

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch