BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The MLS preseason is now underway and for goalkeeper Steve Clark, he will be looking to prove why he was one of the most underrated Americans in Europe.
Things were not always easy for Clark in Norway. He rose to prominence with Norwegian club Honefoss and he helped guide the team to promotion to the top flight, the Tippeligaen. While he was there, however things were not always easy.
In 2012, Clark almost single-handedly saved Honefoss from relegation and was named the Tippeligaen's goalkeeper of the year. In 2013, Clark was once again solid but the club was unable to avoid the drop.
Clark, 27, looks back on his time on Norway and is adamant that he grew from the experience and that it will help him with the Crew.
"The old saying is true: you learn more about winning when you're losing," Clark told YA. "At Honefoss I was either in a promotion battle or relegation battle. I know how to deal with pressure. That is only going to help me. Also when I was at Honefoss the last few seasons we had to work so hard just to earn a point. I was facing a ton of shots every game."
During the offseason, the Columbus Crew hired former U.S national team defender Gregg Berhalter as head coach. Berhalter recently coached Hammarby in Sweden and was aware of Clark while he was in Scandinavia.
Berhalter reached out to Clark in November and the two sides came to an agreement in December. He had other options in Europe but Clark grew up in Michigan and he felt the offer from the Crew was "too good to refuse." He discussed the matter with his family who were over-joyed with the opportunity and the decision became clearer.
"I decided to make the return back to MLS earlier than I thought," Clark explained. "I'm really excited to be back here in the United States close to home. There were a lot of teams watching me every game when I was over there. But this feels good and I am looking forward to showing people what I can do. There is a lot of curiosity about MLS over there in Europe. People really see it as a growing and improving league."
As for his international ambitions, Clark was always hopeful that his time in Norway would have attracted the interest of the national team but the call never came. Now he will be playing in MLS and on a team that is unlikely to be over-run in the way similar to Honefoss.
Based on these factors, Clark feels he is in a better situation and looks forward to
"Based on their call ups, the national team has made it clear they rate MLS higher then it's Scandinavia," Clark concluded with a smile. "So from that, this move is only going to help me."