Postcard from Europe: Bigger challenge awaits Goodson
AMSTERDAM — In soccer and in life, half the search for glory is understanding the path there. Just ask Brøndby skipper Clarence Goodson, who is fresh off taking part in the first US national team win over Italy.
"I know the keys to success," Goodson coolly declared to MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday from his home in Copenhagen.
Was the lanky center back talking about the famous victory in Genoa? No, actually he was referring to his appearance with wife Kelsey on an episode of Home & Garden Television's House Hunters that aired in late November.
"It was cool, but it was primarily for my mom and my wife," said Goodson of the show that chronicled their move to Brøndby-land. "They're big fans of the show and we were actually able to surprise my mother. When it came on, she had no idea. My family kept it a secret from her, so she was thrilled.
"I'm more into playing soccer than being on a reality show. It was a bit of a stretch for me, but I think it came off OK. Of course, the boys will make fun of me for it, but you'd expect nothing less."
Of course not, seeing as how he was one of those boys to pull off the Azzurri upset last Wednesday. Surely, the locker room chatter was through the roof.
"Obviously, it's a very special moment for US Soccer and a very special moment for all the guys involved in that game," stated Goodson. "We put a lot into that game. I'm sure it's something we'll all remember for the rest of our lives."
Not one to boast outside the area of making his favorite ladies smile, the 29-year-old Virginia native stopped well short of saying the Italy win is set to become the norm. When pressed, however, Goodson admits the squad is starting to expect such results from itself.
"There's definitely a level of confidence in the team, but you have to remember we've had some great results in the past," he said. "[Against Italy] we were a few players removed from the team that beat Spain in Confederations Cup. I think, on our day, we're able to compete with the best."
Goodson quickly brought that winning mood back to Brøndby, who posted a sorely-needed 1-0 victory over visiting SønderjyskE in their Superliga resumption match. When play went into hibernation back in December, the 10-time Danish champs were in the unusual spot of staring at the trap door from close up.
With 14 games to go and but nine points separating them from an invite to Europe that has become customary in the Brøndby mailbox, some might take the weekend win as a sign things are about to return to the norm. Captain Goodson, nonetheless, is keeping the ship pointed at more modest goals - for now.
"First and foremost, we need to stay in the league," he asserted. "It was a very poor first half of the season and I think we benefited from having the break in midseason, to be able to go through a 'preseason' with the new coaching staff.
"When things started to unravel for us [at the start of the season], we weren't able to put things right. There was a sense of guys not really knowing exactly where to be. That's the No. 1 thing the new staff has done — we're all on the same page now and know what's expected of us."
Goodson believes the new boss, longtime Brøndby wingback Aurelijus Skarbalius, has the team headed in the right direction.
"You have to play one game at a time," he reiterated. "We're back to playing the way we did last year when we were pushing until the last game for second place. ... We have some pretty difficult games coming up. If we can get some good results there, some good wins at home, then I think we'll start to look up [the table]. Right now, we're trying to create some separation below us."
Goodson and Brøndby will try to go nine points clear of the drop zone and record their first win streak of the season when AGF Aarhus come to town on Sunday.