This week teammates analogized Ricardo Clark to a “bricklayer” – a player that lays the foundation and does tough jobs so the more creative types, “architects,” can do their job around the goal. On Friday night, though, Clark showed he’s more than just a hard-nosed worker.
Only six minutes into the Dynamo's game against the Montreal Impact, Clark showed his skillful side, cutting past the onrushing Collen Warner and rocketing a shot into the left corner to give the Dynamo their lone goal in a 1-0 win. It was a move and shot worthy of Clark's creative counterparts.
“He always puts in the work, and you can always count on him to give 100 percent,” said center back Bobby Boswell. “All we needed was one tonight. When you score that early goal, your chances of getting a win are so much better of getting a good result, and you saw it tonight. Credit to Ricardo for that.”
Though he’ll take the goal, Clark admitted that he got a little help along the way from a slight graze by Matteo Ferrari.
“I think I may have gotten a slight deflection, but still I’ll take it,” Clark said with a grin. “The game was full of great plays offensively and defensively, and I just happened to be the one that got the game-winner.”
Added Dynamo captain Brad Davis: “As soon as it goes and hits the back of the net, I was extremely excited. We knew we wanted to get on top of them right away early and put pressure on them.”
Clark’s goal and play on the night was something Houston missed in their 5-0 loss at Montreal six weeks ago. Throughout the evening, Clark worked alongside Warren Creavalle to break up play while still covering his usual ground and providing needed passing going forward. The effort was integral to Houston winning the coveted midfield battle on the night, one they lost last time out against the Impact.
“I think we gave them a little too much respect up there when we were in Montreal,” Davis said. “[Tonight] we knew we were going to be tougher.”
It was not all Clark, though. Houston played team defense, kept their shape for a majority of the game and came close to putting home an insurance goal on a number of occasions, including several close calls for Giles Barnes. At the middle of it all, however, was Clark. His goal stood out, but he continued to make an impact in ways that often go unnoticed. Unnoticed everywhere besides the Dynamo locker room, that is.
“I think he does a lot of things that maybe a lot of people don’t get or don’t see,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “I think the coaching staff understands how valuable he is to the team. I think if you step back, you realize how important he is when he’s not on the field for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.