ARLINGTON, Texas – Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya will look good on the stat sheet with the goals and assists in Wednesday evening's comprehensive semifinal win over Honduras at Cowboys Stadium. But according to Donovan himself, the credit for the attacking outburst starts further back on the field.
“Our center backs have done a really good job of providing us opportunities to find space,” the US attacker explained to reporters. “They do a good job with their passing, they do a good job coming at people and making defenders commit.”
Clarence Goodson in particular had a strong game, and if secondary assists were awarded by CONCACAF as they are in MLS, the new San Jose Earthquakes man would have had two on the evening. Donovan gave Goodson full credit for starting the play that led to the team’s first goal, by Johnson, and then he went on to pile on the praise for the deciding third goal also Donovan’s second on the night.
“Fantastic ball from Clarence," Donovan said. "The field was really fast, so it was hard to hit a long ball that would actually stay in play. Great ball, I think it was inch perfect over the defender and then Alejandro made a great play."
Goodson said the forwards and midfielders deserve credit for making smart runs that make it easy for him and the other defenders to find them with the ball, but he wasn’t shy when asked if this current run of strong play shows an evolution in his game.
“I think that I’ve always been pretty dangerous for the national team or whatever team I’ve played on,” said a confident Goodson. “ I don’t think that it’s anything new, really. I think we’re all in good form at the moment, myself included.”
Many pundits had assumed that Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, who have proven to be Jurgen Klinsmann’s favorite center back tandem during World Cup qualifying and were called in for the knockout stages, would pair in the back for the semifinal.
Goodson, who got the start alongside Besler, didn’t quite see it that way, though.
“I had no reason to think I wouldn’t [be starting],” said Goodson. “I’d played well to that point and it’s all about competition and we want to have the best players here if possible. Clearly we needed one more center back, minimum with [Oguchi Onyewu] having to leave camp. Clearly Klinsmann has made the right decisions because everyone that has come in has done a fantastic job for us.”