by Kevin Noonan
Save Importance: While Steve Clark recorded multiple six-save efforts over the course of the 2014 season, June 28th saw him face just one shot the entire game. Despite only needing to make one save, it was rather important given the context of the game.
The Crew and FC Dallas had played 82 minutes of scoreless play until David Texeira took aim with a header. Clark was able to make the stop, securing his fourth shutout of the season and Columbus’ third consecutive draw in the month of June.
Save Difficulty: It might have waited until the final 10 minutes of the contest, but FC Dallas’s only attempt at net was a solid look for Texeira. Kevan George initially controls Andrés Escobar’s corner, however, Escobar is able to get a second crack at it after Stephen Keel regains possession.
The result is a headed attempt from just outside of the six-yard box. Clark’s positioning following Escobar’s cross makes the save attempt much more manageable, despite Texeira being in close proximity.
by Kevin Noonan
Save Importance: In the final game before the FIFA World Cup break, Columbus looked to stop a skid, which included four losses in its last six games. After 95 minutes of scoreless action between the Black & Gold and D.C. United, Bernardo Anor was whistled for a handball in the opposing penalty area, giving D.C. United a chance to take all three points.
Fabian Espindola stepped up to the spot and attempted to score on a chip, but Clark remained in position and stopped the shot with ease. Clark’s stop ensured his side would finish the last game before the break with a point.
Save Difficulty: In terms of difficulty, this save does not rank near the top in terms of stops that Clark made throughout the course of the 2014 season. However, it was a high-pressure situation and Clark remained disciplined to not only stop the shot, but also calmly catch the ball and not allow any rebound attempts.
by Kevin Noonan
Save Importance: Looking to maintain its spot in first place in the Eastern Conference to close April, the Crew ended the month against the high-powered attack of the New York Red Bulls. Justin Meram earned a penalty in the 39th minute, which was converted by Jairo Arrieta to give the Black & Gold a 1-0 lead.
Looking to equalize in the 50th minute, Thierry Henry fires a volley that is stopped just in time by Steve Clark, perhaps his finest of five saves in the contest. Although the game did conclude in a 1-1 draw, the Crew finished the month of April with an Eastern Conference high of 12 points, thanks in large part to another solid performance in net from Clark.
Save Difficulty: The shot on goal attempt from Henry starts from the left-hand side of the penalty area, where Roy Miller delivers a cross into the box. Giancarlo Gonzalez tries to clear the ball away, however, it ends up right at the feet of Henry.
The difficulty in this stop comes from being able to react to Henry. Having some space to work with, Henry could take a dribble, look to pass, or do what he ultimately does and fire at net with a volley. Clark’s positioning has him in a good spot, but his reaction time to parry the ball away keeps the Red Bulls off the scoreboard.
by Kevin Noonan
Save Importance: After opening the season 2-0-0 on the road, the Crew looked to find another result away from Crew Stadium to keep the momentum rolling. Federico Higuain recorded the first goal of the game in the 44th minute to give the Black & Gold a one-goal advantage heading into halftime.
Just seconds after the break, Chris Wondolowski threatened to level the contest, however Steve Clark managed to parry the ball safely away to preserve the lead. While the game finished in a 1-1 draw, the first two months on the road proved to be successful, as the Crew recorded seven points in its first three road games of the 2014 season.
Save Difficulty: A midfield turnover from the Black & Gold leads to the Earthquakes gaining possession. Alan Gordon’s backheel pass finds Yannick Djaló, who plays a tidy through ball for Wondolowski.
Waylon Francis seems to have the positioning to halt Wondolowski, but a nice cutback from the latter causes Francis to slide past the Earthquakes’ forward. Having a great look at net, Wondolowski curls a left-footed shot inside the 18-yard box, only to see Clark come up with a superb save on a ball that was ticketed to find the back of the net.
by Kevin Noonan
Save Importance: Leo Fernandes provided an instant spark for the Union when he was subbed into the game in the 55th minute. Although the Crew led 2-0 at the half, thanks to a pair of goals from Bernardo Anor, Fernandes cut the deficit to one goal after poking home a Sebastian Le Toux cross in the 62nd minute.
Clark, however, would not be beaten a second time by the young midfielder. The 71st-minute stop from the Crew 'keeper ensured a second consecutive victory to open the year, as the Black & Gold defeated the Union, 2-1. The win also marked the first home victory of the season. For Clark, he was able to win his first ever match in front of the fans at Crew Stadium.
Save Difficulty: Giancarlo Gonzalez attempted to block the initial shot from Maurice Edu. While Gonzalez was able to get a piece of it, the ball trickled out to an opportunistic Fernandes who was at the right place at the right time.
Despite being the last player of the Crew defense between Fernandes and the net, Clark was able to make a confident stop. Gonzalez then was able to clear any potential rebound attempt to preserve the one goal advantage.
Kevan George hit a milestone by making his 10th all-time appearance for Trinidad & Tobago, but the Soca Warriors dropped the 2014 Caribbean Cup Final to Jamaica on penalties.
George entered the match after the first period of extra time, in the 105th minute. Scoreless through all 120 minutes of play, Jamaica won 4-3 on penalties to take the tournament title and qualify for the Copa América Centenario.
The Crew SC midfielder made two substitute appearances throughout the tournament. By virtue of finishing in the top four, Trinidad & Tobago earned qualification for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Playing its final match at the 2014 Marbella Cup, the United States U-20 Men's National Team fell 1-0 to Canada in a match where Crew midfielder Romain Gall started, earning his sixth international appearance with the U-20s.
Gall played the full match for the Americans and finished the tournament with two starts and one substitute appearance. He scored twice in his first start, in the team's opener against Russia's youth setup.
Photo Credit: U.S. Soccer
In partnership with the United Way of Central Ohio, Crew defender Josh Williams recently surprised children of the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s after school program with books donated by Crew fans earlier in the season during the Get a Kick out of Reading book drive. Williams spoke to the kids about the importance of reading and staying in school, and helped them pick out books to take home.
Justin Meram again started for Iraq to earn his second cap as the Lions of Mesopotamia drew against Oman in their second match at the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations.
Yaser Al-Kadefaje scored in the 14th minute on a scramble following a corner kick to put Iraq ahead, but Ahmed Almahaijri's penalty in the 51st minute leveled the match. Neither side could find a winner down the stretch.
Iraq has one match remaining in the Group Stage, set to be played on Thursday, November 20. The Lions of Mesopotamia can advance if they beat the United Arab Emirates, coupled with a Kuwait win over Oman.
Photo Credit: Action Images