Ricardo Clark was expected to fit right back into the Houston Dynamo side and, considering his history with the organization, it was hard to go against that logic.
Nearly two weeks and 97 minutes – 15 in his 2012 debut last Friday against the New York Red Bulls and another 82 as captain of the Houston’s reserve side Tuesday – of action into his return, and all those expectations have been met.
“I’m feeling better, more confident in my fitness, so it was good to get those minutes,” Clark told MLSsoccer.com by phone Wednesday. “I was with this team for four years and everything’s familiar to me. … But this group has some differences.
Between the Lines: Houston's dynamic 4-3-3
“There’s a good mix of young guys and other guys who’ve been around a while,” he continued. “I think the main difference is the formation we’re playing. … So far, the transition has been pretty smooth.”
The Dynamo’s 4-3-3 formation provides Clark with a different role as part of a three-man central midfield that requires each man to put in work on both sides of the ball, meaning more attacking responsibilities for him.
Boniek García and Brad Davis open up plenty of options for Clark going forward, and while pairing with Davis again Clark has noticed that his longtime teammate is not the same player he was when Clark left the team in 2009.
“He’s taken his game to another level the past couple of years,” Clark said. “He makes my job easier in the midfield and it’s great to have a guy like that on the team.”
Clark will get his first look at BBVA Compass Stadium as the Dynamo prepare to host the Columbus Crew on Sunday (9 pm ET, MLS Live). He has yet to tour the venue or see his likeness on one of pillars that bears his picture, so this weekend carries some extra motivation.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Clark said. “I want to come back to a new stadium and it’s not that bad of a return. I’m just looking forward to it and am hoping we get a good result.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.