Postcard from Europe: Goodson eyes bigger, better things
AMSTERDAM – Having spent the summer on a transfer-window roller coaster, US defender Clarence Goodson looks set to play out his IK Start contract and depart this winter on a free transfer.
It may seem one of the downside episodes from the life of a professional soccer player, but the 28-year-old is barely ruffled as he digs in for what will likely be his final bow in the Norwegian top flight.
The situation is not new to the World Cup veteran. In fact, this is the route Goodson took to Norway from FC Dallas nearly three years ago. This time, though, he will have more and better options to consider at season's end.
"For me, it's not a big deal," he told MLSsoccer.com. "I think that I am in a very good situation. Teams are still calling about me."
Among those suitors is Danish side Odense BK, who seemingly have failed despite great efforts to pry the American away from Start over the last two months.
His current employers have held firm on Goodson's price tag, refusing to let their back-line marshal leave early until someone names the right price. He also rejected a move to Bundesliga risers FC Kaiserslautern this summer.
"They've decided that the best business decision for themselves would be to keep me for the rest of the year, try to get the best out of me and let me walk away for free," Goodson said plainly.
"From my standpoint, that's fine. My time will be up here and I'll quite a few options to sort through to see what the best situation is for me and my family."
Goodson says everyone in the situation understands everyone else's position. The defender wants to move up to a tougher league. The clubs knows this and hasn't tried to stop him.
"The club hasn't even offered me a contract," he revealed. "They've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I will be leaving."
When he does finally find depart onto that new challenge, it will be with a mental scrapbook full of memories from his IK Start tenure.
"I've enjoyed my time here," stated Goodson. "It's not the worst place in the world, by any means. Scandinavia is nice, the lifestyle is nice and the quality of living is quite high."
Of course, he's not done with Start just yet. With nine games left, the team is striving to make up seven points and four places on third place, which would earn the cash-strapped outfit a potentially lucrative Europa League qualifying berth.
In that chase, Goodson & Co. have won four of their last six. The only loss in that span came in the form of an 8-1 spanking at Valerenga that the American missed.
"We've gone on quite a good run since the break, since I returned from World Cup," said the hopeful Goodson. "We're quite a streaky team, and if we can continue that streak, we will have a chance to take a medal."
"It's going to be difficult to make up [the ground], but we score goals in bunches. I know everybody here is pushing for that."
To achieve this goal, Start will want to tidy things up a bit away from home. They've allowed just 10 goals in 10 home matches, but have leaked 31 in 11 road tilts.
The encouraging news may be that three of the four hosts Start will try to tackle over the remainder are in mid-table. They will visit no one above them in the standings and only one club embroiled in a relegation scrap.
Either way one might look at it, Goodson certainly doesn't seem flustered about the bad away stat.
"Giving up goals is actually part of the way we play," he explained. "We throw numbers forward and leave it to the defense to sort out. A lot of times, we're hung out to dry."
"That's the way it is. We're trying to be fun to watch and win games 4-3. That's a tough thing on a defender. ... And it's easy to fall behind on the road and we've done that a few times this year."
Goodson, compatriot Hunter Freeman and Start will resume their chase by hosting first-place Rosenborg on Sunday.