Thursday, November 12, 2009
When Clarence Goodson boarded a flight on Monday to take him from Oslo, Norway to Bratislava, Slovakia, it very well could be the first of many journeys this offseason for the IK Start defender.
Goodson wrapped up his second year with the Norwegian club back on November 1st helping the newly-promoted squad finish a very respectable ninth in the Eliteserien.
Instead of making plans to immediately return to the United States, the native of Alexandria, Virginia was pleased to have received a call from US national team head coach Bob Bradley to join the ‘Nats in their upcoming friendlies versus Slovakia and Denmark which could help boost his chances of landing a spot on next summer's World Cup roster.
"It is always encouraging to be able to go to national team camp," Goodson recently told YA.
"I think my performance at the Gold Cup certainly helped. There are a handful of us who did well at the Gold Cup and now we are getting our shot with the ‘A' national team. It really goes to show how much stronger and deeper our national team pool is now."
In addition to his time with the Stars and Stripes this summer, Goodson was a stalwart on Start head coach Knut Torum's back line all season long and his stellar play earned him recognition as one of Norway's best defenders.
Unsurprisingly, other clubs around Europe also took notice and have expressed an interest in bringing in Goodson during the winter transfer window.
The former FC Dallas man still has one year left on his contract, yet club officials acknowledge that it would be extremely difficult to re-sign Goodson after the season, thus creating a market for a transfer in order to recoup some money before it is too late.
Goodson is very aware of the situation and would not hesitate a moment to take on the challenge of playing in a more prominent European league.
"If I move, I want it to be to a bigger league but it does need to be the right situation," he added. "My goal is to play in a higher league and to test myself. I am very happy playing in Europe and I am not interested in returning to MLS. There have been mumbles about different clubs but I don't pay much attention to that. I worry about staying a professional and minding my business on the field."
News of a Goodson departure would be a blow to Start fans and it would not be surprising to see many blame Torum for that after the coach had a misunderstanding at the tail end of the season with the defender which was played out in various Norwegian media outlets.
It originated when the former University of Maryland standout returned from international duty last month and was suspended by the coach for that weekend's match versus Aalesund after failing to attend a practice session two days before the game.
Despite what might have been reported, Goodson insists that his relationship with the head man is healthy and that the whole matter could have been avoided altogether.
"My relationship with Knut is fine. We had different thoughts on what was to happen after I came back from the Costa Rica game. It was just some miscommunication between us but now we understand each other better. It really never should have been a topic of discussion to begin with," explained Goodson.
The apparent dust-up with Torum was nothing compared to the controversy that encircled the 27 year old just two weeks prior when Start defeated Rosenborg to spoil an undefeated season for the newly-crowned league champions.
With the match dead-locked at 2-2, a stoppage time penalty kick was called after Rosenborg's Rade Prica shoved Goodson in the Rosenborg penalty area. Start forward Cristian Bolanos converted the penalty kick and the three points belonged to the visitors from Kristiansand.
In the days after, the ex-Terrapin was railed by media members, fans and even Prica himself for ‘acting' and ‘flopping' in the area. The verbal assault by the Rosenborg striker left Goodson shaking his head because it ran in direct contrast to what Prica had told the former ACC star just minutes after the incident.
"For me, it was no problem at all," said Goodson of the incident. "I just don't understand the controversy… What a lot of people don't know is that after it happened, Rade came up to me at midfield and said, ‘Why did you do that? Why did you fall down?'"
"I said to him, ‘Don't blame me for you pushing me…' Prica then said to me, ‘You know what, you're right.' And then he went and accused me in the press afterwards when he had admitted on the field to me he was wrong."
The win over the league champions served as a reminder that at their best, Start were considered one of the strongest teams in Norway this season despite having such a young squad.
Fellow American and defender Hunter Freeman was one of those younger players who were brought on to help Start build a contender for future league titles. The signing of Freeman was welcomed by Goodson who believes that the squad will continue to mature and gain more experience with every match it plays.
"I was very happy when the club expressed an interest in Hunter. I knew him from playing against him in college while he was at Virginia. It was nice to have another American on the team and it was great playing with him this year. The team will continue to grow and gain more experience and hopefully have fewer ups and downs, " he concluded.
Goodson appeared in 21 matches this year for Start and scored three goals. He also netted his first international goal for the US in July in a 1-0 Gold Cup victory over Honduras.