HOUSTON – Ricardo Clark is showing few signs of slowing down. The Houston Dynamo veteran has turned in a standout season scoring a career-high eight goals and has been standout on and off the field.
As he enters the final match of the 2015 season on Sunday in Vancouver (7 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in US), he’s also approaching the end of his Dynamo contract, setting him up for a decision this offseason: whether to re-up in Houston or move on.
With contract negotiations ongoing, Clark is hoping he won’t need a change of address form; if the deal is right.
“Houston’s where I’d like to be. Obviously there are conditions outside of that that has to be right,” Clark told MLSsoccer.com. “It has to be a contract I feel is deserved and fair. I’ve been talking with the Dynamo on and off towards the latter part of the season. I hope we can come to an agreement because Houston’s where I’d like to be.
“The majority of my MLS career has been here and my family’s settled here and I like Houston. I like being around the guys and it’s an environment that can be successful. Houston’s been a big part of my life and I hope something happens that I can stay here.”
The Dynamo declined to speak on the state of negotiations with Clark, but recognized his value to the club.
“It’s club policy that we don’t discuss individual contract situations publically,” said general manager Matt Jordan. “Ricardo, among a lot of other guys, has had a good season and that’s great to see. We think highly of him and a lot of other guys. So those are things that are best kept in house. We’ve got to keep to that club policy.”
An added variable in the equation is that Clark confirmed he is eligible to be among the players who can test the free agent market under the new collective bargaining agreement. Meeting the age and service mandate, Clark could choose to explore the MLS market.
But the Dynamo are not hiding the fact that they want him to remain in Houston.
“He’s a player we’d love to keep in the club and nothing’s changed in that respect,” said head coach Owen Coyle. “As you see I’ve picked him every week he’s been available and he knows he’s got a coach that believes in him and a club that believes in him. Contract negotiations are always private … he’s a player we’d like to keep and we’ll just have to see.”
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Clark has rewarded Coyle’s confidence and is arguably Houston’s MVP this season. Along with Will Bruin, who is also out of contract, Clark has been a consistent producer on a team that’s had its ups-and-down in the goal-scoring department. Despite battling injuries that have seen him miss games each of the last three seasons, the 32-year-old’s play in the middle has included his usual defensive work but also an ability to contribute in the attack.
He’s proven an ideal fit in Coyle’s system in 2015 just as much as Clark considers Houston an ideal fit for him and his family.
“That’s a definite possibility [ending my career in Houston],” Clark said. “My family’s settled here, I’ve had some great moments here and I really do love Houston as a community. I feel a special connection with the community. Since I’ve been here we’ve been relatively successful throughout the 10 years and I hope to continue that success.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.