Bobby Clark hasn’t seen it all, but the Notre Dame men’s soccer coach has seen most of it.
And with Stanford’s Jordan Morris making an impact on the USMNT while still in college, Andi Herzog scouring the ranks of active NCAA players for Olympic prospects and college players like UConn’s Cyle Larin paying immediate MLS dividends, it comes as no surprise that Clark loves what he’s seeing in college soccer.
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In part of a long-form piece profiling Clark for NBC’s SportsWorld, the longtime Aberdeen keeper shared his thoughts on the state of the game.
Clark’s senior tri-captain, Patrick Hodan, was one of 28 players called into U.S. U-23 camp as coach Andi Herzog searches out players for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
“There’s a lot of good players in college soccer, and full marks to Jordan,” Clark said. “He’s very good and we recruited him. But was he the best striker in college soccer last year? Possibly not. I’m delighted with Patrick Hodan, who was Offensive Player (of the Year) in the ACC, but there’s a lot of good players out there and it’s terrific that U.S. Soccer is taking a serious look at them. There are a lot of good ones who aren’t even on that list.”
Clark is impressed by the wisdom of MLS squads as time goes on. Whereas the Fighting Irish coach sees the MLS Combine as a bit of a crapshoot, he’s happy to see NCAA players in MLS camps during their summers.
“Columbus, Sporting Kansas City, I know several players have gone there and practiced over the summer,” Clark said. “If they do that with local guys, they can come back and look at them through the college season with so many games streamed now. They can check up with them, and when it comes to the draft you’re not depending on the combine which is a really tough way.”
The Morris thoughts are very interesting, as they clearly aren’t a shot at the Stanford but a nod to the immense talent in the American college game. Sure Larin was a no-doubter pick for Orlando, but what about Gyasi Zardes and Tesho Akindele, who came out of CSU Bakersfield and Colorado School of Mines to thrive in MLS? Who else is out there but being overlooked?
Clark’s thoughts are very interesting, and the piece is worth a read (*Of course I think that… I wrote it) if only for the fact that the coach is an inspiration in finding a job he loves and doing it every day in admirable fashion.