FCdallas.net had the opportunity to sit down with head coach Colin Clarke to ask him about the best players he has been around, the best soccer match he has seen and his early prediction for the 2006 World Cup.
FCdallas.net: You've already been scouting in the U.S., now you're leaving to go to Argentina and Brazil to scout. Anything going on or players you've seen that you can comment on?
Colin Clarke: "Obviously the college stuff is something that is very important to us with the SuperDraft approaching (Jan. 14). It's even more important this year with the expansion of the roster size. We're going to need to add four extra players to our roster. Along with myself, John Trask and Brian Haynes have been out extensively scouting a lot of games.
"As far as abroad, I'm going down to Argentina and Brazil for about a week. There are probably a good eight players that we have identified down there. I'm going down to Argentina first, then to Brazil for two or three days, and then back to Argentina to finish up. I'm excited about the trip and looking forward to it. I'm hoping that something good will come from it."
FCdallas.net: You've played and coached in hundreds of different stadiums. What is your take on the new stadium for FC Dallas in Frisco?
Clarke: "It looks like it's going to be a great stadium. The first thing that hits you is that it's a bowl, sunk into the ground and hopefully that will add to the atmosphere. At the moment, we're still trying to go through some of the spacing issues we have there for our locker rooms and stuff, but this is exciting for both the team and the fans."
FCdallas.net: Who is the best player you have ever coached?
Clarke: "In my short time as a coach (assistant or head coach), Eddie Johnson is a guy that really excites me. His potential is really something and I'm looking forward to seeing where he ends up. We could look back 10 or 12 years from now and see what an amazing career he had. But overall with the potential he possesses and what he has accomplished over the past few months is phenomenal."
FCdallas.net: What is the best soccer match you have ever seen?
Clarke: "There really isn't one match that sticks out in my mind. I love watching the tournaments, the World Cups and the European Championships. I enjoy watching those kinds of tournaments where there are elite teams playing in a short period of time. All in all, I've seen a lot of good games, a lot of good goals and a lot of great moments, but I just like watching a tournament over a two or three week period unfold in front of you."
FCdallas.net: Which younger players, besides Eddie Johnson, Cory Gibbs and Ronnie O'Brien, do you think will make big strides next season?
Clarke: "For us, hopefully all of them. Part of our job is to provide an environment that our players can excel in and get better in. Whether it's young players who are going to be here for their second year or players we bring in for their first year, it's important for us to create an environment that they can succeed in. We'd like to think that we are doing our job properly and we believe that they all are going to develop next year."
FCdallas.net: Give us your early prediction for the 2006 World Cup?
Clarke: "Well, this is a very early prediction. Hard to look away from Brazil, although they were the last team to win it I believe in Europe. The European teams are a little bit up in the air at the moment. Greece won the last Eurocup, but is struggling to qualify. You have to wonder if England has enough world-class players to win it again. France would be the one from Europe for me that would have the best chance. But I guess we'll just wait and see."
FCdallas.net gave Colin Clarke a word or phrase and he responded with the first thing that came to his mind.
- MLS head coach = "Fun."
- Northern Ireland men's national team = "At the time when I played, we went out and enjoyed games. We were a closely-knit group who had some great results against some great teams."
- U.S. men's national team = "Potential. They have a lot of good, young stars coming through with Eddie, Landon (Donovan) and DeMarcus (Beasley). I think they have the potential to be very good over the next 10 years and beyond."
- 2005 MLS Cup in Frisco = "Very, very exciting. Looking forward to us being there."
- Simo Valakari = "Professional."