Nearly eight months after his last knee surgery, Colin Clark looks to be closing in on his official debut for the Houston Dynamo. After being traded to the club last August, Clark has spent more time with the team trainer than with his teammates, but a new workout has the midfielder optimistic that ratio will reverse soon.
Clark spent the last two weeks in Los Angeles working with Dr. Chris Powers at the University of Southern California on strengthening his hip muscles to prepare for his return. After his time out west, doctors have given him a target return date of April 1.
“Dr. Powers is working on a study that shows a lack of hip strength can cause ACL injuries," Clark said. "I’ve been out there working with him on my hip strength, and it’s made a difference with the way I move and play."
After working with Powers, Clark joined the Dynamo for fitness training on Monday. Going forward, Clark will spend this week working on his fitness and start integrating into team training next week. If all goes well, he will be back to full training with the Dynamo by the doctors' target date in two weeks.
An unfortunate veteran of multiple ACL surgeries, recovery has taken longer the second time around.
“It’s been tough this time around being two and a half months longer in recovery but, as my family says, taking my time is best for my career,” Clark said. “Talking with Dr. Powers and looking at some of the work he’s done, it looks like they are starting to believe that eight months is the proper recovery time.”
Clark is hoping the work he has done to strengthen his leg will pay off. During training Monday, Clark was working with the ball and on making cuts to build strength toward being able to make in-game moves. The work is an encouraging step, but the left footed midfielder knows from experience the transition from training to playing MLS games will be a challenge.
“Right now I’m hoping that the work I’ve done to get stronger and allow my hips to take the work off my knee will pay off,” Clark said. “[Returning] will be tough the second time around, but I know it's part of the process, and I’ll have to overcome that hurdle mentally.”
Clark is hoping to be available for selection by head coach Dominic Kinnear when the Dynamo travel to New York to take on the Red Bulls on April 2. It’s an occasion he and the Dynamo have been looking forward to since his arrival.
“Everyone forgets about Colin Clark because he hasn’t played,” Kinnear said. “We’re looking forward to him getting healthy, because he’s going to be an excellent pick up for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.