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Columbus Crew re-signs Ricardo Clark for 2019

The veteran midfielder will remain in Columbus for another season.

MLS: Columbus Crew at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC announced on Thursday the club has re-signed Ricardo Clark. The 35-year-old midfielder is set to enter his 15th season in Major League Soccer and second with the Black & Gold after signing with the Crew as a free agent ahead of 2018.

“We are pleased to welcome back Ricardo to Columbus Crew SC in 2019,” Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “Ricardo’s vast experience in MLS and with the U.S. Men’s National Team continues to be valuable to the Club. Ricardo’s work rate on and off the field not only helps achieve results but also sets an example for players of all ages on the roster and we look forward to his contributions in his 15th season in this League.”

Clark was originally selected by the New York MetroStars with the second overall pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft after playing two years at Furman. As a rookie, Clark started all 28 games he played — making his MLS debut against the Crew on April 12, 2013 — recording three goals and one assist. Clark was named a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year, losing to the Chicago Fire’s Damani Ralph.

After two successful seasons to begin his professional career with the MetroStars, Clark was traded to the San Jose Earthquakes ahead of 2005. The central midfielder played in 30 games for the Earthquakes that year, starting 28, registering three goals and two assists.

Following the 2005 season, San Jose and all of the players relocated to Houston to become the Dynamo. Clark continued to build on his the success of his early career in Houston. He was named an MLS All-Star in 2006 and 2007, was a MLS Best XI player in 2006 and began to receive call ups to the U.S. Men’s National Team. The Dynamo won back-to-back MLS Cups titles in 2006 and 2007 but Clark missed both final games due to suspensions.

Following the 2009 season, Clark’s contract with MLS expired and the midfielder signed a deal with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. Over the course of two-plus seasons in Frankfurt, Clark made just 16 total appearances. After struggling in Germany, Clark was sent on loan to Norwegian First Division club Stabaek. There he made 17 appearances and scored one goal.

After being released by Eintracht, Clark returned to MLS and the Dynamo in 2012, playing in 11 games and recording one goal. Clark finally played in his first MLS Cup Final that year, starting as Houston fell 3-1 to the LA Galaxy.

In 10 total seasons with the Dynamo, Clark played in 253 regular season MLS games, managing 28 goals and 23 assists. During his second stint in Houston, Clark was named the Players’ Player of the Year in 2013 and 2015. He was also voted the club’s Most Valuable Player in 2015, after he scored a career-high eight goals.

Clark signed as a free agent with the Crew ahead of the 2018 season. As a backup to starting central midfielders Wil Trapp and Artur, Clark made 13 appearances, eight starts, and recorded one goal and one assist. In the Sept. 22 game against the Colorado Rapids, Clark played in his 350th MLS game.

“I’m happy to re-sign with Columbus Crew SC,” Clark said. “It’s a historic moment for the Club and I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m ready to contribute to the organization and I’m ready to put in work and do my best to bring success back to the Crew.”

For his 15-yard MLS career, Clark has played in 350 regular season games, logging 28,768 minutes with 36 goals and 28 assists. He will once again provide valuable experience as a backup option for the Black & Gold in 2019.