CARY — Even Landon Donovan had to commend goalkeeper Scott Goodwin.
“They played well, they defended well, their goalie had one of the best performances that I’ve ever seen,” Donovan said after Goodwin shut out the Los Angeles Galaxy in the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Goodwin has been the Carolina RailHawks’ backup goalkeeper for most of the season.
Donovan’s praise is the most high-profile of remarks that have been tossed Goodwin’s way since he became the starter just a few weeks ago.
RailHawks starting goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, a two-time NASL player of the week honoree this season, is out with a thumb injury. So Goodwin has had to start all three of Carolina’s U.S. Open Cup matches – two against MLS teams – and will make his fourth Wednesday against FC Dallas.
He hasn’t disappointed.
In three Cup games, including a 2-0 win against the Charlotte Eagles prior to Fitzgerald’s injury, opponents have scored just one goal against Goodwin. Whether it is during penalty kicks against Chivas USA or against Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Goodwin has risen to the occasion two times in a row against MLS clubs.
The U.S. Open Cup website named him the player of the round after the Galaxy performance.
RailHawks defender Daniel Scott, who was instrumental in Carolina’s success on defense, has been impressed by Goodwin.
“Scottie Goodwin pushes Akira every day in training, and it shows when he’s called upon. He made some huge saves,” Scott said.
Donovan, who entered the game as a substitute in the 64th minute, had a great chance to score in the 83rd minute from point-blank range. But Goodwin was able to block the shot, preventing Los Angeles from taking a late lead.
Goodwin believes in moving on quickly to the next play. So it took him a bit to realize what he had just done.
“I didn’t really think about ’til about five or 10 minutes later and I was like, ‘I think that was Donovan.’ You’re scrambling around watching the ball – you have no time to think about it,” Goodwin said.
While Goodwin has flourished in his recent opportunities with the RailHawks, his success has been a long time coming.
Goodwin spent his high school days at Broughton in Raleigh and his college years at UNC, both within 30 minutes of WakeMed Soccer Park.
Despite finishing his career at UNC with program career records in shutouts (41), minutes played (7,103) and goals-against-average (0.54), Goodwin didn’t attract much attention from clubs within the USA, and opted to go play in a place where he knew he would see the field immediately: Iceland.
Thousands of miles from his home country, Goodwin honed his skills with IF Hoffur in Egilsstaðir.
“I had an amazing experience in Iceland. It was a great way for me to get a lot of games at a good level, and it was really a good way for me to start off my professional career,” Goodwin said.
While Goodwin’s career at UNC was top-notch, being able to play at a higher level overseas was beneficial.
“With my team at UNC, I would go three games at a time while making maybe one or two saves because I just had an absolutely incredible defense. I had a great team in front of me in Iceland as well, but it’s just the nature of playing in a professional environment against professional teams,” Goodwin said.
With Fitzgerald out of commission for the next few weeks, Goodwin will step into the starting role for the foreseeable future, and RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke is very confident in him.
“He’s a great keeper, and he comes in and he works hard every day. The two of them push each other. All of his hard work has paid off,” Clarke said.
Goodwin is just happy to be back home.
“Coming here, I have just absolutely loved it,” he said. “The guys have been great. The program is top notch, and being able to play for these guys is something that I’ll always remember.”