John Goossens won’t be on the field in the near future for the Men In Red, but his presence was still felt in Saturday’s home-opening win over Real Salt Lake.
One week earlier, the Dutch midfielder admirably filled the void left when it was revealed Juninho would miss the season-opener at Columbus to serve a one-game suspension stemming from a red card earned with his prior club. Goossens partnered with Dax McCarty in central midfield and helped turn the tide of the match in the second half, registering an assist on David Accam’s 73rd-minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw.
But Goossens, who has had to overcome injuries numerous times in his pro career, would go to ground in stoppage time after an awkward landing while attempting to block a cross. Several days later, it was announced he would undergo surgery and be sidelined five to six months in recovery.
The news came as a blow to Goossens and everyone within the Fire locker room.
“Here’s a guy who worked so hard in the offseason, really wanted this opportunity, particularly to play in the middle of the field,” GM Nelson Rodríguez told the hosts of Fire Weekly last Wednesday. “For those who watched the game, as (Goossens) grew into the game, our team got much better. It’s almost a sin that he suffered such a devastating injury on virtually the last play of the game and in an all-out effort to preserve the result for us.”
With that in mind, Veljko Paunovic and his team wanted to be sure Goossens knew he was in their thoughts as they took the field for the 2017 home opener on Saturday. The team sported custom T-shirts with a “Get Well Goose” message on the front and the Dutchman’s name and number on the reverse side. Some took to social media to make their well wishes known even further:
“It was from the club but I think everybody felt we have to do something,” fellow Dutchman Johan Kappelhof said after the 2-0 win. “It was a very good reaction from the club, I think everyone appreciated it and I think Goossens will appreciate it for sure. We all feel for him and hope he will be back soon. I spoke with him a little bit about the surgery and how it feels but it’s short after the surgery so we’ll give him some time with his family.”
Friend and countryman Michael de Leeuw echoed similar thoughts.
“He’s one of the team, part of the family, so I think everybody felt we had to do something,” de Leeuw said. “I think we showed we are thinking about him and we hope he’s going to recover soon.”
For his part, Goossens has managed to share his own feelings toward his injury, his teammates and his club through social media: