After a stint in Europe that included a relegation, a loan, and just 27 first-team league matches (of which only 15 came with his original club, Eintracht Frankfurt), Ricardo Clark will return to city where he was a 2006 MLS Best XI and a 2007 All-Star, Houston.
The defensive midfielder will join the club pending Geoff Cameron’s receipt of a work permit, which would free up the salary space needed (Cameron makes $230k; Clark made $248k in 2009).
“We have been able to conclude a deal to bring Ricardo Clark back to Houston and making him a member of the Dynamo once again,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “We have been tracking his career in recent months and wondering if the opportunity would come up to reacquire him and now that it has, we were able to find a suitable agreement for all parties to bring him back.”
While the deal is finalized, Houston will have to wait to officially add Clark to the roster until outgoing center back Geoff Cameron’s move to English Premier League side Stoke City is completed. Cameron’s personal contract and a transfer agreement with his new club have been signed, but the deal is still pending him winning an appeal for a work permit, scheduled for August 8.
Until then, Clark will not be able to appear for the Dynamo in an MLS match, but can train with the club.
The Dynamo retained the rights to Clark after making a significant contract offer to retain his services in 2009. He’s expected to fit into the holding midfield role he played in his first stint with the club, which ran for four successful seasons starting in 2006.
After earning a roster spot with Frankfurt as a free agent in 2010, Clark was prompty injured. He returned in late February, but he sat on the bench until late April. He made a handful of appearances late in the 2009-10 season, but he never looked entirely sharp and struggled in his two appearances at the World Cup. He made eleven league appearances in 2010-11 (including some at centerback), but he was ultimately not a major factor and had all but disappeared after Frankfurt’s relegation and was in fact granted permission for a leave of absence to join the annual January camp with the Nats. He then trialed and was loaned to Stabæk in Norway, where he made twelve league appearances. He was released by Eintracht in July.
What are your thoughts? I always considered Clark a decent player (with some great moments with the Nats— he was one of the best players in the 2007 Gold Cup final and scored the lone [and critical] goal in a World Cup qualifying win at Trinidad and Tobago) who was probably in over his head at the Bundesliga level. There’s no shame in that. His 2.5-year run in Europe wasn’t overly successful, but I think he’s still a quality MLS player who can help reigning Eastern Conference champion Houston cope with the loss of Cameron. Plus, he once kicked Carlos Ruiz, and who hasn’t wanted to do that?
It’s also interesting that Clark, a player who often seemed better suited for centerback, will be replacing Cameron, a former midfielder who was always best-suited for centerback (although it sounds like Clark will play as a destroyer CM in Dominic Kinnear’s newfangled 4-3-3).