Ricardo Clark put his full game on display Saturday night.
The Houston Dynamo midfielder was all over the place in the club’s 2-0 win over D.C. United. That itself is not unusual, but what was more noticeable was the time the midfielder spent up the field.
Clark, traditionally a defensive-minded midfielder, was not shy with his runs forward, getting into the attack whenever possible and creating chances for the Dynamo when they needed them most. The result was him putting his stamp on a game that he helped pull out in the final 10 minutes.
“That’s just him. He’s all about energy and covering ground,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “I think in the first half he was going forward a little bit too early and caught that one run but was the run you want from him. To see the amount of work he puts in, he probably covers more ground than anybody out there and it’s on a daily basis.”
If you are looking for tangible evidence of Clark’s impact, just cue the highlight reel. Clark was the box-to-box midfielder that many have said the Dynamo will need this year, making runs linking with forwards Giles Barnes and Will Bruin and making regular runs past the D.C. defense, including the run that drew the foul for a first-half penalty kick.
He also played a pivotal role on Houston’s fortuitous winner. Clark was the player D.C. defender James Riley was tracking when he headed an own goal on an 80th-minute corner kick.
The Dynamo veteran blasted home a strong finish nine minutes later to seal the victory.
“I was trying to get my body in the way and create as much havoc as possible,” Clark said of Riley's own goal. “I think I had a case for a foul, but to be honest I don’t think the refs going to call a foul in that instance. I don’t think he’s going to give a PK away. I was just happy to see the ball hit the back of the net.”
Clark’s play was an example of the energy that went into a physical match that Kinnear aptly termed a “man’s game.” It may also be a look at the type of attacking contribution he can deliver in the coming season.
“We kind of worked on it. At some points I thought he was too high, but that was ironic because he ended up scoring the goals,” center back Bobby Boswell said. “He’s a workhorse, he’s a beast.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.