When the whistle blew to end Columbus Crew SC’s 2-1 win over the New England Revolution at MAPFRE Stadium Wednesday, goalkeeper Steve Clark made his way over to the supporters’ section, Nordecke, for the first time since May 9.
The team had gotten the win, ending a six-game streak without one.
And when Crew SC wins in Columbus, Clark gives the crowd his now trademark “Yes!” chant, inspired by wrestler Daniel Bryan.
But the occasion wasn’t just a win – the match marked the 50th of Clark’s short MLS career. And while he said it didn’t affect him before the game and he only keeps track of his overall match count, he looked back briefly before turning his attention to the club’s Saturday match in Salt Lake.
“It’s been some of the best years of my life,” he said. “Every single professional game should be celebrated in a small way, but I’m very focused on the moment and moving forward. So I’m going to enjoy tonight with my beautiful fiancé and then I’m out of here and flying to Utah.”
Since Gregg Berhalter and Columbus acquired his rights from the Seattle Sounders for a 2015 Fourth Round SuperDraft selection, the ‘keeper has played every MLS minute for the club.
“He’s been a pillar to that back line and he’s been solid,” midfielder Ethan Finlay said. “He’s a leader back there. … Steve works incredibly hard and is incredibly passionate about what he does and what this team means to him.”
Clark said he didn’t arrive in Columbus with the expectation of being that leader, but says it grew naturally.
“I think leadership is about loving your teammates, so that’s what I try to do,” he said. “I just try to be a good teammate. I have a little bit of a fiery personality, which I think helps out at times. But there are a lot of leaders in here.”
In his 50th match, Berhalter said Clark “needed a performance like that, and he got it.” But Clark reiterated his cyclical view on the game.
“I take every game one at a time; I thought it was a good game,” he said. “But big saves and good games kind of come. They just come. I’ve played for seven or eight years. So when you go through a stretch where you give up goals and you make a mistake like I did in Philly, good things just come. You just walk your dog and enjoy life.”
And in Columbus with his dog and fiancé, Clark says he’s happy – much happier than in Europe.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “I just really like playing in the U.S. I have a lot of good teammates. Traveling the country has been a real blast. But other than that, I’m pretty focused on the present moment and working to get better. So I’m looking forward to the next one.”