SJEarthquakes.com caught up with Quakes and USMNT centerback Clarence Goodson immediately following the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw on Friday.
Goodson, who has 44 career caps and 5 goals with the USA, was a part of his country's squad during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Most recently, he was on the 2013 Gold Cup winning team and was an integral part in the USMNT's 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
In twisted World Cup Draw fate, the USA will open the 2014 World Cup the way they ended the 2010 World Cup - with a rematch against Ghana. The United States will face the African side on June 16 in Natal. With what is said to be the worst schedule, the United States will then travel to Manaus on June 22 and Recife on June 26 to face Germany and Portugal, respectively.
SJEarthquakes.com: What were your first reactions after seeing the draw?
Clarence Goodson: It’s a difficult group. You have four teams in there that all expect to advance. These are teams that have done well past tournaments, teams that are very strong in their regions and have some world-class players. That makes for a lot of really competitive, entertaining games. Of course, for the World Cup, everything is amped up a bit so there will be a lot of anxious moments leading up to the game, but we’ll see how it shakes out.
SJEQ: What do you think about Big Vic and Honduras' chances?
CG: I think that [Honduras] has a chance. It’s going to be difficult no matter the teams. I think when you saw the first two teams – Switzerland and Ecuador – drawn in, a lot of folks might have thought that would be a good group to head to, so Honduras is probably happy about that. Honestly, the toughest teams in that group are France and Ecuador. I don’t personally think Switzerland will get out of that group, so that means Honduras has to beat one of those other teams and take care of business against Switzerland. We’ll see. For them, it’s their second World Cup so hopefully they’re not just happy to be there.
SJEQ: Who is a potential surprise team to make a run?
CG: Belgium is certainly capable of making a run. Their group is probably the weakest, so I think they’ll make it. People thought that they could do well before the draw anyways, but I think that they could do really well. There aren’t going to be any surprising teams to me the way this Cup was drawn. You’re going to get the best teams coming out of their groups.
SJEQ: What's the most exciting game for USA fans to check out?
CG: I think the first game will be the most exciting for our country. There’s a lot of optimism heading into that first match and a lot of your success comes down to that first result. A win is obviously great, a tie is fine and a loss leaves a lot to be desired so that first game means a lot.
SJEQ: Does the travel schedule pose a problem for the USA?
CG: We feel fine [about the travel schedule]. It’s something that we’ll deal with. We have people on our staff who are highly trained and know how to deal with these things. They’ll get us the best treatment possible and we’ll do everything we can to give ourselves the best chance to advance.