Cap him! Caden Clark making a case for United States national team

New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark continues his statement for the United States national team. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark continues his statement for the United States national team. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

All the buzz will about his first half goal but Caden Clark showed more than just the ability to find the back of the net for the New York Red Bulls in a 2-0 win over Orlando City on Saturday afternoon.

In fact, Clark is making a statement that he could be a factor for the United States this fall in World Cup qualifying. The New York Red Bulls wide player has the goal scoring touch that could be valuable off the bench for the United States and is now maturing in recent outings into a more complete and polished player.

Clark, who just turned 18-years old, put the Red Bulls up 1-0 in the 36th minute. After sending a cross from the left channel that found forward Patryk Klimala in the penalty area, Clark wisely continued his run into the box and cut inside of his marker.

The shrewd move paid dividends when Klimala sent a ball across the face of goal and Clark, at the back post, was able to fire home his fourth goal of the season.

As big as his goal was for the Red Bulls, his fourth of the season for what it’s worth, it was the solid delivery of his cross to Klimala coupled with his well-timed back post run that shows a growing savviness to his game.

It is an impressive output from Clark, in his first full season in MLS after signing late last year with the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls Academy product has been solid to date for the Red Bulls; dating back to his debut with the senior team last year Clark has six goals and an assist in 13 MLS appearances (11 starts) through Saturday’s match.

What impressed about Clark on Saturday was his vision and spacing which, combined with the goal, made for arguably his most complete performance to date in MLS. At the start of the season, Clark at times appeared to be playing too fast, a frantic sort of energy where he seemed to value getting the ball off of his foot rather than where he was delivering it.

Over the past month, the game has slowed down for Clark a bit, allowing this frenetic pace to his style of play to translate to success. In Saturday’s win, he delivered quality passes and smart runs, winning second balls to sustain possession for the New York Red Bulls.

What Clark showed was the poise and presence as well as purpose, a maturing of his motion and movement that went beyond frenzied pressing for the sake of pressing.

Clark’s first half goal staked the Red Bulls to a deserved 1-0 lead at halftime. A second half goal by Cristian Casseres Jr. on a set piece secured the win for the Red Bulls.

Quick Notes

  • Klimala, in his first start with the Red Bulls since arriving in MLS two weeks ago, was able to get his first point of his MLS career.
  • That first half goal sequence from the Red Bulls began with centerback Tom Edwards making a smart interception to stifle an Orlando City counter attack. He then passed to midfielder Sean Davis, out to Caden Clark, to Patryk Klimala then Clark back post for the goal.
  • Three of those four players involved in that first goal came after the Red Bulls had fired Chris Armas as head coach. Needless to say, it is amazing what an infusion of talent can do for a roster.

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer