Ricardo Clark, of the U.S., earned his first international cap when he entered the game as a second half substitute on Wednesday, October 12th, 2005 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The United States Men's National Team defeated Panama 2-0 in a World Cup Qualifier.

Ricardo (Rico) Clark on scoring a WCQ goal for his father: “It’s special to score a goal with him watching. He’s been a big part of my life, big part of my soccer career. It’s a blessing to score in front of him.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

This story originally was posted on BigAppleSoccer.com Sept. 9, 2009.

By Michael Lewis

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago — There’s something about these parts that bring out the best in Ricardo (Rico) Clark when it comes to scoring goals for the U.S. national team.

Maybe it’s the latitude. Both of his international goals have been scored in this Caribbean country or the nation just eight miles from T&T — Venezuela.

Or perhaps its because he is in or close to the land of his father’s heritage. Lance Clark was born in Trinidad.

Whatever the reason, Clark certainly has shown the flair for the dramatic in these parts.

The first goal came in a 3-1 loss to Paraguay in Copa America 2007 in Barinas, Venezuela.

The second came Wednesday night in the U.S.’s 1-0 win over the Soca Warriors, moving the Americans within a victory of reaching soccer’s promised land for an unprecedented sixth consecutive time.

In fact, Lance Clark was in the stands at Hasely Crawford Stadium and he must have been one proud poppa after watching his son strike for the lone goal.

“It’s special to score a goal with him watching,” Clark said. “He’s been a big part of my life, big part of my soccer career. It’s a blessing to score in front of him.”

Clark has family — distant relatives on the island.

“We don’t keep in touch with them too much,” he said, adding that he saw one of his father’s cousins during the team’s short stay here.

“It was one of those get-in, get-out things,” Clark said. “I saw my dad this morning. got him some tickets, then it was bye-bye. I don’t think I’m going to see him after the game. So that’s the life of a soccer player.”

Like it or not, Clark did not play or even dress in the 2-1 triumph over El Salvador in Sandy, Utah Saturday.

“It was more of a strategic thing,” he said. “I had been playing a lot of games in Houston. Because of the card situation with a lot of the players I think he wanted to rest me to make sure I was available for this game, which was huge.”

The timing of coach Bob Bradley and Ricardo Clark could not have been any better.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.