This ‘Goose’ Is Worth a Second Gander : Forward Jan Goossens Has Become Shooting Star of the Comets

Times Staff Writer

This “Goose” generates power and speed from his right foot instead of his right arm. His high, hard one breaks glass sideboards rather than bats.

This “Goose” smiles at reporters, speaks of sensitivity and stresses how important it is to have friends.

This “Goose” has a 50-game regular-season scoring streak that would make Joe DiMaggio proud.


This “Goose” is one of the most underrated players in his sport.

Jan (Goose) Goossens, 28, a Comet forward from the Netherlands, finished second in the Major Indoor Soccer League in scoring this season and was Kansas City’s most valuable player.

In the first two games of the best-of-five playoff series between the Comets and Sockers--which is tied at one game each going into tonight’s third game at the San Diego Sports Arena--Goossens leads all scorers with four points on a goal and three assists.

“Jan has always been one of the premier players in the NASL (North American Soccer League) and MISL,” said Comet Coach Dave Clements Monday afternoon, as he watched his team go through a light workout on a grassy area near the team’s hotel on Shelter Island.

“Back in Europe, we talk about a guy hitting his prime at 27, 28 or 29. That’s where he’s at. I look at a guy who’s getting into his peak.”

This season, his first at Kansas City after his contract was purchased from Minnesota during the off-season, Goossens was had a career-high and club-record 51 goals and 44 assists for 95 points, trailing only Dallas forward Tatu’s 111 points.

Goossens led the Comets in assists; was tied with his roommate, linemate and good friend Dale Mitchell for goals scored, and led in power play goals (13) and game-winning goals (8). He scored 53 points on 29 goals and 24 assists in his last 22 games, and he scored five goals against Wichita in the victory that clinched second place for Kansas City in the Western Division.


“He’s come in from Day 1 and done super,” Comet goalkeeper Alan Mayer said.

And he came cheap. The Comets acquired Goossens from the Strikers for approximately $25,000. Goossens was an established scorer in two seasons with Edmonton (NASL) and two seasons with Golden Bay (one in the NASL and one in the MISL).

For the Strikers, Goossens scored 49 goals and had 24 assists for 73 points in 1984-85 and 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points last season. In the playoffs last season, Goossens scored a team-high 21 points on 12 goals and 9 assists.

“I was really disappointed when they sold me,” Goossens said. “I played there two years and did a good job.”

The Strikers were struggling to meet the $1.25 million per-team salary cap that was implemented before the 1986-86 season. Minnesota had six talented forwards, and only four could play regularly.

“They had to sell a player,” Goossens said. “For me, the price was right.”

Goossens went from a team that he didn’t believe wanted him or used him properly to a team that welcomed him.

“In Minnesota, the coach (Alan Merrick) had the philosophy that all six forwards could play,” Goossens said. “He never kept the same line. He kept rotating. After we won our first four games last year, he told me and David Byrne to take a couple of games off. That’s not good for the confidence of a player. If you’re doing well, you have to play all the time. I was really frustrated by that.”


The Comets went out of their way to let Goossens know he would be their main man offensively.

“They gave me a good feeling,” Goossens said. “They were expecting a lot from me. More than they would expect from just an average player.”

Before the season started, the Comets offered him a multiyear contract, but Goossens opted to keep his one-year contract because he didn’t know if he would like Kansas City or like playing with the Comets. On Monday, Goossens said he was very close to reaching an agreement with the Comets on a multiyear contract.

He feels wanted. And that’s important to Goossens, who was not voted by players or chosen by coaches to play in this year’s MISL All-Star game.

“I was a bit disappointed I didn’t make the All-Star team,” Goossens said. “There are a lot of good players. But I was doing well. I don’t know what I have to do to make it. This year, I was consistent. Not up and down.”

Consistent is an understatement. Goossens scored a point in all 45 regular-season games he played in this year. That extends his consecutive-game scoring streak to 50 games, dating back to last season with Minnesota. The MISL record of 76 games is held by Tacoma Star forward Steve Zungul (14 games in 1978-79, 32 games in 1979-80 and 30 games in 1980-81 with the New York Arrows).


“I get a lot of confidence out of the streak,” Goossens said. “I’m wondering how long it will go on. I can’t keep it forever, but when it ends, at that moment, I’ll be disappointed.”

The streak was in severe jeopardy in a game against the Lazers at the Forum March 13. Goossens scored an empty-net goal with three seconds remaining to keep his streak going. The Comets were leading by two goals and the Lazers were playing with a sixth attacker when Goossens re-entered the game with a minute remaining.

“With 10 seconds to play, the ball came off the boards,” Goossens said. “I side-footed it from the other side of the field.”

Despite Goossens’ individual success this season, Mitchell says his roommate hasn’t changed as a person or a linemate.

“He’s pretty easy-going and doesn’t take himself too seriously,” said Mitchell. “Sometimes one guy gets a lot of points and he gets greedy. That hasn’t happened. We both look for each other when we’re playing.”

That was especially true in the Comets’ final regular-season match in Chicago May 3. The night before, Goossens scored five goals in an 8-6 victory over Wichita.


Going into the game against Chicago, Goossens led the team with 50 goals, followed by Mitchell with 48.

“Before the game, I told Dale, ‘Let’s try to tie in goals scored,’ ” Goossens said. “Sometimes if you’re in the limelight, like I’ve been this year, you get everything. Mitchell scores so many goals, but hardly gets any attention.”

Goossens scored his 51st goal early in the game. Then he made an effort to feed Mitchell, who scored twice to move within one goal of Goossens. With about four minutes to play, Goossens fed Mitchell for his 51st goal.

“That was great,” Goossens said. “Dale Mitchell is a big part of my consistency. We’re good partners on the field. There is no jealousy.”

The Comets led the league in scoring and were the only team to have two 50-goal scorers. By comparison, Minnesota forward Alan Willey led Goossens’ former team with 32 goals.

“One of my favorite T-shirts,” said Goossens, who collects T-shirts, “was given to me by a Striker fan before I left Minnesota. It said: ‘Goodbye Minnesota. Hello Kansas City.’ ”