090813_usmex_practice_olson_us_mex_jo_9-8-2013_0216_dxo Jeremy Olson for American Soccer Now
Player Spotlight

Clarence Goodson Ready to Face Mexico Challenge

The San Jose Earthquakes center back was a late addition to the American roster but he's ready to jump into the Starting XI. With Matt Besler suspended for the match, Goodson is a likely starter.
BY Noah Davis Posted
September 08, 2013
11:17 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio–Clarence Goodson watched the United States' 3-1 loss at Costa Rica with the understanding that the phone might ring.

"It was always in the back of my mind that if things went a certain way, I would be called upon," he said before training on Sunday evening.

They did. Matt Besler picked up a yellow card in the second half, which meant that the Sporting Kansas City center back would miss Tuesday's game against Mexico. Soon after, Goodson was on a plane bound for Ohio.

Did he change anything considering he would likely be suiting up for the Stars and Stripes instead of the San Jose Earthquakes?

"Not really. You're prepared for a game regardless. We're all pros. It's just going to be a different opponent," he said, which is perhaps the most casual way anyone has ever described playing a vitally important World Cup qualifying match against a team's biggest rival.

Goodson and Omar Gonzalez have experience playing together as the duo combined to shut out Costa Rica in Denver. The plan is to repeat that performance in front of a friendly crowd at Crew Stadium.

"When Omar and I have played, I think we have done a good job," the center back said. "If it's me and Omar on Tuesday, certainly we are going to do our best to keep them out of the goal and get three points."

He and Gonzalez will have moments where their one-on-one defending skills and proper positioning will be vital. While the Americans might play slightly more cautiously than they have at home considering the caliber of the opponent, they will still strive to play attacking soccer. That style occasionally leaves the back line vulnerable, but it's part of the plan, according to Jurgen Klinsmann.

"I think it's a normal process that we are going through. When you push high up the field, when you play a high-pressure game, you always have to take into consideration that you might get caught on the breakaway. You're gonna work on those elements... That process you will have moments where you give away a couple of more goals than you hope to, but I think overall that process is going very positive," he said.

Tim Howard watched as Costa Rica put three goals past him on Friday night, the third one coming when Besler lost focus for a split second and allowed Joel Campbell to get on his inside. It was a goal that came as a direct result of that high pressure.

"At the top level, small little mistakes cause chaos," he said. "But if we can correct those small little things, we'll be fine."

Goodson saw the mistake, and the game-ending tally, on television. Tuesday night, he'll likely have a much different perspective.

Noah Davis is deputy editor at American Soccer Now. Follow him on Twitter.

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