CARSON, Calif. – There lately has been an extra bounce in the steps of the LA Galaxy’s Colin Clark. His shots have been harder during training and his movements have been more forceful.
“Just take it out on the soccer ball on the field,” he said with a grin.
The reason for his determination is simple: he was unable to play in the Galaxy’s two matches against Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League and won’t be playing in the upcoming semifinals against Monterrey. Clark simply has not been eligible.
The 28-year-old came to the Galaxy from the Houston Dynamo during the offseason in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, and CONCACAF rules stipulate that a player cannot play for two different teams in the same competition. Having been on Houston’s roster in the group stage of the Champions League, Clark cannot represent the Galaxy in Champions League play until the 2013-14 edition of the competition opens this summer.
The Galaxy are no strangers to this dilemma, having run into this problem a year ago when neither Pat Noonan nor Marcelo Sarvas could play in the Champions League quarterfinals against Toronto FC having played for Seattle and Alajuelense respectively.
“I asked Bruce (Arena, Galaxy head coach) as it approached, and they tried to see if they could get that overturned,” Clark said. “I quickly found out that wasn’t going to happen.
“It was a little frustrating, but life goes on.”
Clark, who started in the season opening win over Chicago before being forced into a spectator’s role, said he has liked what he has seen from the two-time defending MLS Cup champions, despite the season being in its early stages. The Galaxy will be playing only their second league match, against Chivas USA, on Sunday at The Home Depot Center.
“You look at the scoreboard, and 4-1 is a great result,” he said of Wednesday’s series-clinching victory over Herediano. “At home we expect to beat everybody we play. There were moments we showed a lot of brilliance and moments where you could tell the team still hasn’t jelled.
“The fact that it’s early in the season I think all things are starting to come together and we’re only going to get stronger.”
Clark has first-hand knowledge of the Galaxy’s next opponent, CF Monterrey, who are making their third consecutive trip to the Champions League semifinals and has won the last two competitions. Clark played for the Dynamo in a September 2011 friendly with the Mexican power that turned out to be anything but friendly.
The Dynamo won the game 3-0 at Houston’s Robertson Stadium, but it was the seven yellow cards and three red cards shown by referee Jasen Anno that day that dominated the headlines. Los Rayados finished the game with nine men after having two players sent off while head coach Victor Manuel Vucetich was forced to leave the field in the 67th minute.
Clark said he was impressed with the Mexican side, despite the fireworks, on that night but is confident in the ability of his new side as they look to become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League.
“They’re very technical, very good on the ball and they attack well,” Clark said. “I think we have plenty of quality in our side that we can come away with a victory in the two legs.”