PASADENA, Calif. — Clarence Goodson is in his second consecutive Gold Cup final and the United States defender is hoping that his experience in Saturday’s big match against Mexico (8:30 pm ET, FOX Soccer) is a far cry from his last one.
Goodson was a key part of the "B" team the US sent to the 2009 tournament and the tall center back went 90 minutes in the US’ 5-0 defeat to Mexico in that final. He, like the rest of the team, struggled to deal with their speedy archrivals. During this tournament, however, Goodson has solidified his spot as a first-choice defender, starting every game during the Americans’ tournament run and has put his performance from two years ago far behind him.
“We had a good 45 minutes in that game [in 2009], so we’re looking certainly to gather a good 90 minutes [on Saturday],” Goodson told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “It’s two totally different teams. The US team that we had last time than the one we have now, it’s a totally different starting XI.”
Goodson has performed well throughout the tournament and in addition to adding to the defense, he’s become a threat for the Americans on set pieces. At 6-foot-4, he cuts an imposing figure during dead-ball opportunities, with his height helping make Goodson a perfect target.
The defender tallied the United States’ lone goal in their 2-1 defeat to Panama in the group stage, and on Friday, after the Yanks’ training session at the Rose Bowl, Goodson preached that set pieces will be a vital weapon against El Tri.
“I think we always concentrate on set pieces," he said. "That is where we can get some good chances. It’s no different than any other match. We’re just trying to work hard at those and maintain concentration.”
Goodson and his partner in central defense Carlos Bocanegra, will be charged with stopping the Mexicans' high-powered attack that has scored 18 goals during the tournament — 11 more than the US. Leading Mexico will be tournament top goal-scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who has found the net seven times thus far in the competition.
While Goodson struggled to deal with the Mexicans’ attack two years ago, he says the game plan to thwarting El Tri this time around is simple: Don’t give them chances. If the Americans can do that, then Goodson may have his vengeance for the 2009 debacle.
“We just need to limit the quality of chances that they have,” said a confident Goodson, “and it’s going to be a good game for us.”
Adam Serrano covers MLS for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter: @AdamSerrano