Clark, 17, finished with two shots off target before being subbed out in the 62d minute for Omir Fernandez. Starting on the right side of midfield, he threatened Orlando’s goal in the 16th minute with a left-footed blast that fizzed over the crossbar. Had the effort gone in, it would’ve been eerily similar to Clark’s late equalizer in last Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Toronto FC.
Watch: Caden Clark nearly scores against Orlando
Aside from that early effort, Clark was credited with completing just 47% of his passes (9-of-19). He also logged three recoveries, two successful tackles and one interception – tracking back to help RBNY right back Kyle Duncan corral Nani and Kamal Miller on Orlando’s right flank.
So, what's the takeaway from Clark's third MLS game? It’s difficult to make proclamations, though expectations of him scoring in three straight games were always perhaps unfair. Instead, what you see is a teenager who’s still developing and mixed bags will be inevitable.
Those following Clark’s progression will have to roll with the good and the bad, though the club clearly rates the youngster extremely high.
“We know what a special talent he is and we've seen it throughout the USL,” interim head coach Bradley Carnell said after the Atlanta match. “And we know he has certain qualities and it makes it interesting with our style of play. So, first and foremost, you know he's a Red Bull player – a Red Bull philosophy player – he plays our way, runs our way and he's hungry in our way.”
Before signing an MLS deal, Clark played for New York Red Bulls II in the USL Championship. He made 12 appearances for the reserve side during 2020, plus recorded three goals and a team-leading five assists. His rights were also acquired from Minnesota United for $75,000 in General Allocation Money.