Clark battles injuries, opponents
Ricardo Clark burst onto the Major League Soccer scene last season. He was drafted second overall by the MetroStars in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft and soon after the Furman University product became a regular starter for the Metros. This year, Clark's presence on the field has been limited due to injuries, but lately he has been feeling better and getting back into the action. MetroStars.com caught up with Clark to find out his feelings on this season.
MetroStars.com: The team is past the halfway mark of the season. What are your thoughts on the season thus far?
Ricardo Clark: It hasn't been as smooth this year personally as last year because I have been injured. I was late coming back. I felt as a team we have done well. We're in first place so it's obvious we are doing well. We just have to keep it going through the second half of the season.
MetroStars.com: This is your second year playing professional soccer. Coming into this locker room, not being a rookie, do you feel you are more confident than last year?
Clark: Oh yeah, definitely. You don't know what to expect coming into your rookie season, so I went through last season learning what being a professional is all about with practice day in and day out. Coming into my second year, it's obvious what to expect and what it's going to be like. I know how long the season is going to be and everything that goes with playing professionally.
MetroStars.com: During your rookie season, you quickly became a fixture in the MetroStars line-up. This year, you have not garnered as much playing time. What are your thoughts on this?
Clark: I feel I have not cracked the lineup not only because of injury, but because there's also a lot of competition here on the team. It's definitely been a bit frustrating, but that's the way it is.
MetroStars.com: You recently have worked your way back into the Metros lineup. What are your thoughts on your role so far in the 2004 season?
Clark: Coach has experimented me in the outside back and I have also played center midfield where I have played most of the time. I'll play wherever the coach wants me to be and whatever role he puts me in. I just strive to do my best in whatever role he needs me.
MetroStars.com: You touched on this earlier by saying that there's a lot of talent on this year's squad. Because of the depth of the team this year, is the competition for playing time motivational?
Clark: It definitely motivates me. It makes you a better player when there's a lot of competition and it forces you to play your best at all times. It definitely should be making me be a better player, as well as the rest of the team.
MetroStars.com: A few weeks ago the team was riding high with a five-game unbeaten streak. Recently, the team has dropped two in a row. What are your thoughts on that?
Clark: I mean, we just have not had it together the last two games. There's a big home game coming up so we just have to change that around.
MetroStars.com: This weekend, the team has a huge game against the Columbus Crew. The team has had a firm grip on first-place for quite some time and now it is on the line Sunday. Has the team been preparing any differently for this match?
Clark: The team has not been preparing too different than any other game. The good thing is that we still are in first place, but we don't want to get slack. Two losses can definitely bring the team's morale down, but we just keep going and practicing harder. Coach has been a bit tougher on us this week, but that's for a reason. We don't want to fall into a slump this late this season. We have to come out and play hard Sunday, especially because it's a home game.
MetroStars.com: Last year's MetroStars team had a pretty strong season, but fell short toward the end. What is the difference between 2004 and 2003's squads?
Clark: I think we play more as a team this year. Everyone fights for each other more this year. Last season we fell short at the end and that's something we have to learn from this year. Because toward the end of the season is when it counts. We have to make sure we're playing hard when it counts.
MetroStars.com: Being a professional soccer player, how important is it to get away from the game every now and then to clear your mind?
Clark: I don't think you can focus on soccer 100% of the time. I think about it a lot, especially after games. I think about what I did well and what was bad. I think about how I can better those mistakes. But I definitely think having down time to myself is important because you can't dwell on soccer 24/7. I think that's why coach gives us a day off each week because it's good for your body and mind to get away once in a while.
MetroStars.com: What do you do in your spare time?
Clark: I just chill, hang out. I am a pretty low-key guy and don't do anything too crazy.