STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Clarence Goodson led the U.S. soccer team onto the Stanford Stadium field for Day 1 of World Cup training, about 20 paces ahead of teammates.
Goodson was a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, and the 6-foot-4 defender is hoping that experience will help him earn a trip to Brazil next month, and a greater role this time around.
The competition at his position is stiff, given that coach Jurgen Klinsmann's preliminary 30-player roster features 11 defenders, and he must trim the roster to 23 by June 2.
Goodson, who plays for the San Jose Earthquakes some 20 minutes down the freeway from Stanford University, is among the more experienced American players in training camp, with 46 international appearances, yet the center back was an unused substitute who never saw the field four years ago in South Africa.
"It's certainly a dream, but not just going but being able to play and be a part of it. That's certainly something I'm hopeful of this time around," said Goodson, who turns 32 on Saturday. "It speaks about longevity, being able to be considered for two World Cups. Not many people get to go to one, so to be considered for two is certainly a big honor, but it's something I've worked very hard for."
Goodson and the Americans are training at Stanford ahead of an exhibition against Azerbaijan on May 27 at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. There also will be a June 1 match versus Turkey at Harrison, New Jersey, and a game with Nigeria six days later at Jacksonville, Florida. The U.S. squad will then travel to its base camp in Sao Paulo to prepare for its Group G opener against Ghana on June 16 at Natal.
Midfielder Maurice Edu was cleared to participate in Thursday's training after sitting out Wednesday's first session because of concussion-like symptoms.
Goodson expects to compete for the starting spot at center back — and Klinsmann has said depth at all positions will be important in case of injuries or other factors throughout the World Cup.
"Clarence is a guy that's very vocal, so especially for me being a young guy, that's something I like," defender DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders said Thursday. "Even if it's not necessary information, as long as they're talking, I know they're in the game and it helps me stay in the game. Clarence obviously has that experience. He's been there."