There weren’t any stand out performances from the United States Men’s National Team on Sunday in Toronto. If they’d gotten one, they probably wouldn’t have had to settle for a disappointing 0-0 at BMO Field. The attack lacked creativity. The midfield, outnumbered for most of the night, failed to make an impact, while the defense did their job (keeping a clean sheet), albeit against a side that wasn’t too interested in maintaining any sustained pressure.
On a night like this, Man of the Match becomes a process of elimination. Who did anything that stood out? Cross off half the team. Amongst those that did something noteworthy, how many directly impacted the match? And how many players did something that was truly more than you’d expect from your run-of-the-mill player?
After that elimination process, Clarence Goodson’s name stood out, and until stoppage time, giving the Brondby defender the honor was a relatively easy choice. Then came the 92nd minute, when Dwayne De Rosario drilled a ball into the six from the line, right into a big gap where Goodson should have been. Simeon Jackson’s missed sitter kept the score 0-0, but the chance nearly ruined Goodson’s claim to a starting spot.
Then, one minute later, Goodson nearly made up for it. With the U.S. pressing for a winner, Goodson charged forward trying to keep the ball in the attacking third. Undercut while airborne, Goodson drew a nearly vital foul. Michael Bradley’s restart swung in to the edge of the six, where Goodson held off his man to drill a shot on goal. Lars Hirschfeld pushed the would-be winner over the bar.
Before the late match drama, Goodson had been as solid as Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey (other Man of the Match considerations). His work consistency breaking up half-chances at the back (8 clearances, 3 recoveries, 3 tackles, one block and one interception) may have given him the edge. The same could be said about his efforts one-on-one against Jackson after the Norwich City attacker came on the 65th minute. Even then you wonder if Goodson could have done more on Jackson’s 68th minute chance, when Jackson was allowed to take aim at the upper-right hand corner from 22 yards out. Neither Goodson nor Bocanegra were able to put in a challenge.
It wasn’t a perfect night, yet Goodson was still one of the U.S.’s best, and when a performance like that wins your team’s Man of the Match, you’re probably a little lucky to get to the final whistle with a 0-0. But that’s a team concern. Individually, despite not playing in against Scotland and Brazil, Goodson may have done enough to vault to top of Jurgen Klinsmann’s right-center half pecking order.