Columbus Crew SC announced today that goalkeeper Steve Clark has signed a new multi-year contract.
"It's a multi-year deal and we're excited to have him around," sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said of Clark. "We think that he has proven to be a top goalkeeper in this league and we think he has even room to grow."
Since joining the Black and Gold from Honefoss BK in Norway before the start of the 2014 season, Clark is among the Major League Soccer leaders in saves, shutouts, and clearances and was a finalist for the 2014 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award.
"I think Columbus is a higher level than I was playing at before so that was a challenge last year," Clark said. "But I feel like I'm continuing to succeed and hopefully push that level of play."
Before returning to the United States to play for Crew SC, the Michigan native played in Norway for four seasons. While he was successful with Honefoss, the goalkeeper was glad to return close to home.
"It was just really nice to get back in the Midwest and Columbus, which is not so different than Michigan obviously," Clark explained of last year. "It was really easy and comforting getting back to your home culture. A lot of times when your life outside of soccer is easy, soccer becomes a little bit, I wouldn't say easier but easier to handle. That's been a big plus and I think it's put us at ease."
This deal ensures that Clark will remain a member of the Black and Gold for the foreseeable future. This allows for stability in his life, allowing him to focus on soccer here and not worrying about moving around. In Clark's eyes, the signing of the contract should also be an indication to fans that Columbus is his home.
"I hope it means something to the fans because in this day and age, players come and go," he said. "I'm not saying players shouldn't be able to come and go, but I definitely wanted to be able to put pen to paper and say this where I intend to be, this is where I want to be, this is a place where I'm developing."
Berhalter has proven in the past that players who perform will be rewarded. After playing every minute in goal for Columbus last year and helping them make the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011, Clark is one of a list of players who have been given a new contract with time remaining on their current deal because their form dictated it.
"I think that in looking at Steve's performance last year and looking what he means to the team and looking at what he means to this community, I think he's an important figure," Berhalter said. "We talk about building a team, building a consistent team from the middle upwards and he's certainly part of that. He's proven to be a very good goalkeeper in this league and we're excited to have him as part of the team."
According to the head coach, Clark makes the big saves that "wins the team points," and that's something a club can't find anywhere. Berhalter also likes his infectious competitive edge.
"He's extremely competitive and he wants to win every single thing he's in," Berhalter said of Clark. "Whether that's in training or a game. That attitude seeps into the rest of the team and then they go along with him."
From his play on the field, to his influence in the locker room, to his connection with the fans - specifically the Nordecke where he leads the "Yes!" chant after every home win - Clark has fit in with Crew SC and this deal means he will be minding the nets of MAPFRE Stadium for years to come.