Ricardo Clark won’t be in the Houston Dynamo lineup tonight, as the red-tape of player personnel pieces around him still need sorting. But the once and future man of Orange is in Houston, signed up and ready to begin his second run under Dominic Kinnear.
Don’t be fooled by Clark’s struggles in the national shirt and in his Bundeliga pursuits since leaving Houston after the 2009 season. The day he gets on the BBVA Compass grass is a great Dyanamo day.
Assuming Clark’s confidence hasn’t taken a significant body blow from a two-plus-year European crusade that was far what Clark had hoped, he represents an upgrade in the holding midfield spot.
Adam Moffat has been adequate in the role – tactically sound and OK enough with the ball to help Houston into last year’s MLS Cup final – but Clark covers far more ground, and that’s an important element in that role. It allows guys like Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia just a little more leeway and just a touch more ability to lean forward with their positioning.
There’s also a chance Dominic Kinnear could tweak the 4-3-3, inverting that central midfield triangle and re-shaping the look into a 4-2-3-1, therefore deploying Moffat and Clark in tandem with Brad Davis at the top of the triangle. (Or, Davis could deploy wide left in that arrangement, although he’s not a classic winger and might not be tailor made for that kind of role.)
Kinnear could also go back to the 4-4-2 he used for so long, with Moffat and Clark arranged centrally but asked to provide a little more defensive cover on the right, so that the dynamic Boniek Garcia can have the freedom to create and move around, inside or outside, from starting positions along the right. It might look a little like the way Seattle has most often used Mauro Rosales.