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- DOB May 17, 1982
- Age 31
- Place of birth Alexandria, Virginia
- POSITION Defender
- HEIGHT 6'4"
- WEIGHT 180
- U.S. CAPS 44
- CLUB San Jose Earthquakes
- Current ASN 100 Rank 21
- Previous ASN 100 Rank 23
Clarence Goodson does not ask for much on the field. He's a simple player, defending with skill (especially in the air) and providing a tall yin to his other, shorter centerback's yang. Goodson won't ever be the best distributor, but he can be effective with short passes and dangerous on set pieces. Sometimes, he makes you forget he's in the game, a trait that is both good and bad. He's gotten more consistent with age, which is paying off with more playing time under Jurgen Klinsmann.
It's hard to imagine that a player with Goodson's height could fly under the radar, but that was the case for the Virginia native who never appeared on a U.S. youth side. "For whatever reason, I sort of fell through the cracks," he told the Washington Post in 2010. "You have a decision to make: You can decide that they are right or prove that they are wrong. I have gone about my business proving them wrong, I guess." Prove them wrong he did, earning his first national team cap in 2008, the same year he left MLS after three seasons to join the Norwegian team IK Start.
From 2008 through 2010 Goodson established himself as a backup to Oguchi Onyewu on the American team and a regular fixture on his club squad. Bob Bradley selected the defender for the 2010 World Cup roster, but Goodson did not see any time in South Africa. A 2011 move to Denmark's Brondby was another step forward for Goodson, and he showed his class by quickly taking over the captain's armband.
Goodson's fortunes are increasing on the U.S. front as well. With Onyewu in decline due to a combination of injury and inactivity, Goodson, his former understudy, is stealing more playing time. Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra pair together well, generally making up for a lack of foot speed with veteran savvy. The position will remain competitive under Klinsmann, with Onyewu pressing to get back in the mix and others, such as Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron, eager to secure a spot. But the central defense slot alongside Bocanegra looks to be Goodson's for now. The world, finally, is paying attention.—NOAH DAVIS
Noteworthy ReadsFierce Competition at Center Back Helps U.S.
Clarence Goodson's Journey from Springfield Could Culminate at World Cup