STANFORD, Calif. -- As Clarence Goodson vaulted up to the edge of the raised walkway running along the outside of the field at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night, San Jose Earthquakes teammate Chris Wondolowski could only marvel at the 33-year-old’s hops.
The 6-foot-4 center back had just hurdled over the advertising boards after heading home his first-ever goal for the Quakes, then taken one giant leap to grab onto a railing and celebrate with a knot of happy fans as San Jose pulled ahead in what would eventually become a 3-1 victory against their LA Galaxy archrivals.
“When I saw the [advertising] boards, I was like, ‘Oh, no,’” Wondolowski said. “I had to get a running start. I just had to pat him on the back, because I definitely couldn’t get up there.
“The Big Skinny -- he can leap.”
Goodson has leapt right to the forefront of the Quakes’ 4-1-4 run over May and June. San Jose have allowed one or no goals in all but one of those games -- the outlier was a 3-1 loss in Toronto on May 30 -- and are now tied for fourth with Colorado on a 1.00 goals-against average.
Goodson and center back partner Victor Bernardez played a huge part in slowing a Galaxy attack which pounded Philadelphia and Portland in their previous two league matches for five goals apiece. LA went ahead early on an electrifying 35-yard bolt from Juninho in the 17th minute, but after a pair of David Bingham saves in the 24th, the visitors didn’t put another shot on net all evening long.
“They’re such a skilled team, so dangerous on the break,” Wondolowski said. “They’re very tough to defend, and I thought our whole back line did a great job defending as a team as well. It was great, but I thought Victor and Clarence were magnificent.”
Goodson was briefly knocked out of the match after a head-to-head mid-air collision with Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez in the 36th minute. Goodson was made to leave the field by referee Jose Carlos Rivero, but returned in a matter of seconds. Gonzalez, though, was pulled at halftime, a big blow to an LA defense already trying to grind its way through a third league match in eight days.
“It was a little knock at first, but I’m good,” Goodson said. “I feel good.”
The Quakes pushed for a go-ahead goal as the second half opened, and it was Goodson -- losing marker Baggio Husidic with a looping near-post run -- who provided it.
“It was great to finally open the account,” said Goodson, who last scored in MLS play as a member of FC Dallas on Aug. 11, 2007. “We were really on top of them up until the goal. So I think it was important to get that and put them on their back foot, make them think that maybe it’s going to be one of those nights.”
San Jose began to play better, smoother soccer after that, leading to Cordell Cato’s knockout goal in the 72nd minute. But nobody could match the celebration of Goodson.
“If I’m scoring a goal, I’m doing something cool like that, I hope,” Bingham said.
As for the fans who shared his moment, Goodson couldn’t report what they said to him: “I just heard shouting. A lot of shouting.”
Geoff Lepper covers the San Jose Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com.