Major League Soccer

Caden Clark believes he's a 'more effective' player now despite goal drought

Chris Smith
Clark has four MLS goals to his name this season but hasn't found the net in his last nine appearances.
Clark has four MLS goals to his name this season but hasn't found the net in his last nine appearances. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Red Bulls youngster Caden Clark believes he is a better player now than at the beginning of the season, despite failing to score in his last nine appearances.

The 18-year-old burst onto the scene with a number of impressive strikes in 2020 and followed that up at the start of this season, scoring four goals in his first seven games.

All of this was enough to impress the Red Bulls' sister club, RB Leipzig, who signed Clark and loaned him back to New York for the rest of the 2021 MLS campaign.

But Clark has failed to find the net since that transfer was confirmed, with fitness issues killing his momentum. Even so, the teenager's performances have begun to improve again.

Speaking ahead of the Red Bulls' clash with fierce rivals DC United this weekend, Clark admitted he found it tough to regain his fitness mid-season, but insisted he's a more effective player now than he was at the start of the campaign when the goals were flowing.

"It's never easy trying to get back fit in the middle of the season," said Clark. "But to add to that I feel like at the beginning, yeah, I was scoring goals, we were winning and were on a good run. [But] at the same time, I feel individually I was still undeveloped and I still am now. But I would say my play style, I wasn't being as effective with the ball, even though I was scoring goals. I wasn't truly being a No.10 that this team needed.

"But I feel like now, of course the goals I haven't scored, I'm looking to sort out. But I feel like I've been more effective on the ball and I've really grown up in certain areas.

"So I'm just looking to keep performing and the goals will come. You can't think about it too much, you need to get into the spots and trust your teammates, that they'll give you the ball in the right spot."

Getting Clark back among the goals will be vital to the Red Bulls' push for a playoff spot. Gerhard Struber's men are 12th in the Eastern Conference, five places and eight points below the playoff line.

No player in the Red Bulls squad has scored more than four goals this season, while the club are currently enduring a run of just one win in their last nine games, finding the net just seven times.