With only two matches left for the United States to qualify for next summer’s World Cup, it’s obvious the focus needs to be concentrated.
One of the unsung heroes on the team, midfielder Ricardo Clark, knows what his side need to do in the next two matches and hopes they can come out of it on top with all eyes on South Africa.
“The last thing we want is to end up in fourth place and facing a play-off with a South American team,” said Clark in an interview with FIFA.com. “Every point counts and South Africa is the goal.”
First up for Clark and the U.S. Men’s National team is a bout with Honduras in the Estadio Olympic Metropolitano on Saturday night. Given that it will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this year, Clark realizes the great threat that they pose.
"Honduras's are loaded with talent," said Clark. "Last time we played [a 2-1 win in Chicago in June] they punished us on the counter-attack, going up a goal early. They are ferocious at home. It's a huge match for us and a huge match for them. A point wouldn't be the end of the world but we'll be pushing to the get the result. We want to book our place at the World Cup as early as possible."
If they can manage the win against Honduras, it assures the team of a guaranteed spot in next summer’s tournament. Fresh off their success at June’s Confederations Cup, Clark says his team will be much better prepared for South Africa this time around.
"We were up 2-0 on Brazil [in the final] but we just couldn't hang on,” said Clark who plays his club soccer for the Houston Dynamo. “If we end up in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, we'll know how to close out the game against a big opponent. We won't get caught again."
That remains to be seen. As for now, Clark, 26, and the rest of the USMNT has two huge matches to take care of to ensure they qualify.
A veteran of MLS, Clark has played for three different teams in his professional career. He spent 2003-04 with the Red Bulls franchise, the next season with the San Jose Earthquakes and from 2006 until now he’s been a member of the Houston Dynamo. He’s been capped 27 times by the USMNT and has chipped in three goals.
Shane Evans, Goal.com
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