YA BEST XI: CLARENCE GOODSON
Clarence Goodson is likely to be named to the World Cup roster Tuesday, but is still an unknown to many US Soccer fans. YA has received the answers to your Best XI questions to the Start defender to try to change that.
I) When playing for the US national team and your regular club, what is the biggest difference you see from a strategic aspect? Can you compare both?
- Oscar Perez, Fort Smith, Arkansas
I think that with my club team we like to attack quite a bit. Teams tend to sit lower against us when we are playing at home much the way teams do against the USMNT. As a result with IK Start we sometimes throw more numbers forward than we perhaps should. It asks a bit more of me and my fellow defenders, but our home fans demand an entertaining and attacking style of soccer. On the road we like to press the game as well but more in spurts. In European soccer you cannot play the same on the road as you do at home. That is a recipe for failure.
When playing for the USMNT all the players are the best of the best and that goes without saying. Players cover much more ground and there is a huge emphasis on team attacking and defending. At the highest level one goal or one play can mean a win or a loss. Each game presents its own unique challenges but having a solid team shape both offensively and defensively is always necessary to be successful.
II) What is your favorite pre-game meal or snack?
- Megan Smith, Dayton, Ohio
I am a bit of a picky eater but not so much on game day. I know that must sound strange but its true. I try to fill up the body with whatever I am hungry for whenever I am hungry. Still you won't find me eating anything "unhealthy." If I had to choose a favorite pregame meal I would say pasta with olive oil and salt. Simple and effective.
III) As a college defender aiming to play professionally in the future what sort of strength exercises would you suggest to someone in my situation and what other sort of exercises would make this goal more likely in the future? What is the one major difference between college ball and professional?
- Kevin Hernandez, San Francisco, California
Squats are a player's best friend. I use to hate doing them but they keep the legs strong and fit. Otherwise core exercises are extremely important along with a well rounded upper body workout. The gym is a big part of a soccer player's life but only one part. On the field you must work on your passing and first touch daily. At the professional level everyone can pass and trap the ball and has a good first touch. These things along with the speed of play are the major differences from college to the professional game. The higher you go the more profound the differences become.
- Chas Trodee, Charlotte, North Carolina
No chance. Locals don't even touch it.
V) Say you're in the World Cup, which would you choose?
Clear a shot off the goal line in the last second of a game to win
Score a goal in the final minute to win
- Andrew Schell, Valencia, California
I may play center back but I was born a striker. Give me the goal and I'm off to the corner flag!
VI) What do you feel like are your strongest attributes as a player ?
- Carr Schilling, Los Angeles, California
I feel I am strong in the air and tough in the duels. I think I give good communication and have solid vision and passing. Of course all of these things can be improved upon because you can never feel you have arrived as a player.
VII) A lot of people are saying that Wayne Rooney is the best player in the world this season. If I were to play for the USMNT against England in June, I would be terrified about trying to defend against him, just knowing that he has so many different ways to score. Have you ever felt afraid about defending a certain player? How did you deal with that?
- Dan Murphy, Middlebury, Vermont
I have never felt scared to play against any player. I am more concerned over what I do. I concentrate on my game and work hard to be focused for 90 minutes on every play. I am confident that if I am fully focused and put myself in the proper positions then any player is stoppable. Of course no player is always successful, but that is why you have teammates who help by getting into good covering positions. I believe good communication is capable of sorting out many problems on the pitch.
VIII) Your international career has really taken off since you moved to Norway. How much of that, would you say, comes down to differences between MLS and Norwegian setups and coaching and the influence that difference has had on you? Is it something you would suggest to the promising youths in this country?
- James Knowles, Tampa, Florida
I believe that Norway has given me the chance to excel and take my game to the next level. It is much different being in a country that loves the game. Everyone you see has an opinion about how you are performing on the weekend. Good, bad or ugly you cannot help but love being in that environment. It toughens you and demands a high level from you daily. I believe the standard in MLS is very high but there is something to be said about being in a country where your sport is THE sport. That fanatical environment, more than anything else, has been the difference for me. I think Europe will always have a special appeal for America players of all ages. I think it is a very good alternative but it's certainly not for everyone.
IX) What was the biggest adjustment for you from playing at FC Dallas to your new club?
- Ron Goode, Arlington, Texas
The biggest adjustment has certainly been off the field. Living in a foreign country with different rules and a different way of living took a little getting used to. I have thoroughly embraced the change and enjoyed every minute of my time abroad. In Dallas everything was readily available and here the stores are still closed on Sundays. That's something I wish America still had. It's a slower lifestyle and children can still walk to and from school without a second thought. From a playing aspect there are small differences but both leagues have very athletic players with high work rates. The climate makes for a faster paced game and one that demands a high level of running and fitness. From a personal standpoint I met my wife here in Norway and have now been happily married for over a year. That has been a fantastic adjustment and made life much more enjoyable.
X) What do you see as the biggest challenge for you as you seek to catch a spot on the roster for the World Cup?
- Bryan Dunham, Wichita, Kansas
To keep up my form. I have been called into camps/matches because of my form at the time and I believe the World Cup roster is no different. If I can continue to play well, work extremely hard and show that I am an asset to the National Team then I will continue to be in the discussion.
XI) How has playing in Europe changed the way you play the game?
- Sarah Faulk, Kansas City, Missouri
It has made me a better pro all around, both on and off the field. I think it is a combination of getting older and being in a very professional environment that has improved me and my mind set. I understand the game better and have become a better mental player. I am better equipped to lead my team in whatever situation that presents itself. It doesn't just come down to playing but also studying the game. Its important to know what works, doesn't work and why.