“This has been the most exciting preseason I’ve been in, just because of all the changes.”
Those were the words of Houston Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark after Tuesday’s training session, ahead of the team’s opening match of the season Saturday against the defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders FC at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30 p.m. CT, TICKETS).
“This preseason has probably been one of the hardest physically," continued Clark. "We’ve done a lot of fitness, especially towards the beginning of preseason, and a lot of tactics. I think that’s the most I’ve done with this club since I’ve been here. It’s been good, it’s been needed.”
This weekend will mark the start of Clark’s 14th year in professional soccer, and his 10th season as a player for the Dynamo. Even after so many openers to so many seasons, the long-time Dynamo midfielder still carries plenty of excitement to start another campaign on Saturday.
“It’s fun for us, it’s fun for the fans, it’s fun for everybody involved in what’s going on here and the whole process,” said the 34-year-old. “We’re trying to make the most of it and take what we’ve done in preseason and carry it over.”
Clark—the last remaining member of the Dynamo's inaugural team in 2006—currently stands second behind Brad Davis in the club’s games played (225), games started (216), and minutes played (19,028) categories in MLS regular season play. He's also second behind Davis in games played (273), games started (260) and minutes played (22,968) in all competitions for the Dynamo. That's in addition to his international experience: 39 caps for the United States, CONCACAF Gold Cup winner, and a member of the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad.
A résumé like that makes you a team leader by default, but it’s a role that the long-time Dynamo is happy to embrace.
“I think [head coach Wilmer Cabrera has] been good at just letting us be ourselves. I’ve taken it upon myself to take that leadership role to the next level the best I can and to make an effort in that respect, whether it be more vocal or whether it be by example.”
For Clark and the Dynamo, another chapter in their shared story begins to write itself on Saturday.