BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, May 2, 2011
With a broken toe injury now behind him, Clarence Goodson is back on the field for Brondby and is ready to lead his new club to a late season push to qualify for the Champions League.
Goodson, 28, joined Brondby over the winter transfer window from Norwegian club IK Start and the Alexandria, Virginia native's arrival was expected to be a welcome addition to the club's central defense but things did not get off to a good start.
In Bondby's first game after the winter break against Lyngby, Goodson suffered a broken toe and was forced to miss a month of action for his new club and a pair of friendlies for the US national team.
Goodson is now back with Brondby and has played the previous four games with three straight 90 minute starts. During that time, Brondby has posted a 2-1-1 record with Goodson scoring a goal in a game against Esbjerg.
"I feel good," Goodson told YA from Copenhagen. "Obviously I was a little disappointed to get injured in the first game. I was able to slide right back into the team and that was really nice. I feel good considering I wasn't able to train with the ball for several weeks. My toe feels good. I don't really have any pain. It's just a matter of me getting fitness back now."
Goodson turned professional in 2004 after three successful years at the University of Maryland. For his first three years, he was a consistent starter for FC Dallas in MLS before moving to Norway for IK Start where he was a key player for the club from 2008-2010.
Now Goodson is looking to take his career up a notch at Brondby who have traditionally been one of the strongest clubs in Denmark.
"It's definitely a significant step up from [Start and Norway]," Goodson discussed on the move to Denmark. "It's quite a big club and a good team. All the players are smart players. They're good with the ball and like to keep possession. They all have good technique. The soccer is a lot different. Now there is a lot of possession."
"Norway was a bit up and down the field," he added. "Start was a middle of the table club and we were the underdogs a lot of the time and we were trying to chase the game. At Brondby we possess the ball and dictate the game a lot more."
Goodson joined Brondby at time when the club is trying to make a late season push to qualify for the Champions League. In the Danish Superliga, the top two teams qualify for the Champions League qualifiers and next two qualify for the Europa league.
Brondby last won the Superliga title in 2005 and has not finished in the top two since 2006. With five games remaining in this season, Brondby currently sit in third place and trail second place OB by only one point but have played one more game.
"It's certainly our focus to get second place," Goodson pointed out. "We have four games remaining and it's all there for the taking. The past few years they have been struggling a little bit by not being in those tournaments so, right now, it's about getting back on the right track and back to being where a big club like Brondby should be."
In the years ahead, Goodson expects that Brondby will be able to contend with FC Copenhagen for a Superliga title, but this year the team from the capital have already clinched their third straight title with a ridiculous 29 point lead over OB going into Monday.
Goodson remains confident in Bondby's ability to contend given the talented young players coming up within their system.
"Copenhagen have been playing quite well this year," Goodson stated. "Their confidence is quite high at the moment. At Brondby we have some really good young players that will only improve with playing time. I think the club will also be looking to pick up about one to three players to add to the team. I think the goal is within a year or two to challenge for the title."
Following this season, Goodson will turn his attention to the United States national team where he is expected to be part of this summer's Gold Cup team and could be a likely starter on the backline.
"I think everyone is excited for the Gold Cup," Goodson said of this summer's tournament. "It's a great tournament and great test for the US national team. For me, personally, it's something that I would love to be a part of. But how I do here at Brondby is really going to dictate whether or not I am on the national team – not only for the Gold Cup but for future tournaments as well."
Goodson has earned 17 caps for the US team with his debut coming in January, 2008. He was part of the 2010 World Cup team but did not play in any of the team's four games in South Africa. So far in the new cycle, Goodson has regularly featured when healthy.
His last cap was in November in a 1-0 friendly win over South Africa in Cape Town. in a game where Mikkel Diskerud, Teal Bunbury, Eric Lichaj, and Juan Agudelo grabbed all the headlines, Goodson put in a very solid 87 minutes in a the shutout win.
Goodson is excited for the US team in the first year of this cycle and looks forward to continuing to work with the numerous young players head coach Bob Bradley has brought into the fold.
"I think there are a lot of good, young talents," Goodson analyzed. "But I think there always some new kid on the block that everyone has a lot of expectations from. Every cycle has that. I think with the new guys I've been in camp with, they are all talented players. I think it's good to get them involved in the national teams as soon as possible and test them a little bit."
Still, Goodson knows that despite the influx of new talent into the team, the US national team will be anchored by the experienced veterans who are continuing to play well after the World Cup.
"The team always comes down to the veterans and that is really what makes the team tick," Goodson concluded. "All the World Cup players are still playing fantastic. It's going to take a lot to get those guys out."
Goodson and Brondy will return to action Sunday, May 8th when they host league leaders FC Copenhagen.