May 2, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Los Angeles Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. - Sunday's game between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, KTLK 1150 AM, KWKW 1330 AM, LIVECHAT) is an intriguing matchup in a number of ways. Not only is it a showdown between two teams that have combined to win five of the last eight MLS Cup championships, but it is a rematch of the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup, each of which were won by the Galaxy in front of decidedly pro-LA crowds at The Home Depot Center.
One man who had a front row seat for each of those games is current Galaxy midfielder Colin Clark. Clark played for the Dynamo from 2010-12 and will be facing his former team for the first time since they made him available in last December's MLS Re-Entry Process.
But don't go thinking Clark has had this date circled on his calendar. He's probably looked at it from time to time, but any special significance?
"Yes and no," he said after training this week. "It's always good to beat the team you previously played for. At the same time, I'm definitely grateful for my time in Houston. I'm grateful for the organization and (Dynamo head coach) Dom (Kinnear) taking a chance on me off two ACL's (surgeries).
"It's more importantly a home game for us and we need the three points, to keep progressing up the charts and hopefully catch up to first place Dallas."
When the Galaxy selected Clark, who turned 29 last month, in the Re-Entry draft, head coach Bruce Arena and his staff were confident they had found someone who was effective on the wing. It also was believed Clark could offset the loss of Christian Wilhelmsson, who left the Galaxy shortly after MLS Cup and decided to continue his career in Abu Dhabi.
A starter in the season opening win over Chicago, Clark has seen the start of his Galaxy career interrupted in many ways by the club's CONCACAF Champions League involvement. Ineligible to represent the Galaxy in the quarterfinals or semifinals after having played for Houston in the Group Stage, Clark has been in and out of Bruce Arena's lineup throughout the year. He has made five appearances in the league so far this year, making four starts, though he has not played in either of the last two games. Clark last played with the first team on April 13 at FC Dallas, going 56 minutes on the left side of midfield before being replaced by Jose Villarreal, though he has played in two Reserve League games since then.
"He's been OK, he's solid," Arena said. "We've had (Mike) Magee playing in that position and Mike's been a difficult guy to take off the field. If Mike's healthy, that's been his position and that's what Colin's fighting for."
Clark insisted Sunday's game would not hold any additional significance if he were to get on the field. Instead, he is looking at the bigger picture.
"My goal is not just to get on the field for this game," he said. "I want to get on the field and help this team throughout the rest of the season. If I get on the field Sunday that's awesome. If it takes a couple more weeks or even until the end of the season that's what I'm out here working for.
"You've got to be prepared to play when your number's called, whether it's starting or coming off the bench. Anything Bruce needs in the game I'll be happy to provide."