First off, Caden Clark has been out injured for over a month with something he picked up in camp with the U-20 USMNT side. So, that’s definitely kept him off the radar.
More to your point, however: Clark has been in a slump. Not just this season, but stretching all the way back to last summer. He tallied four goals and five assists in last year’s regular season, but all four goals and two of those assists came before July, when he had to get his appendix removed. After returning, he struggled to get on the scoresheet much at all. It seemed that some of those goals, while spectacular…
…were also masking some mediocre underlying numbers. He over-performed his expected goals by 1.64 in 2021 and finished 2021 with a G+ of -1.33, according to American Soccer Analysis. I certainly don’t think those numbers are the worst thing in the world, especially for someone who was 17 at the time and playing their first full professional season. But they also aren’t the numbers that mark the second coming of [insert whatever American player you really like here].
At the same time, he’s still a little bit of a positional nomad in the midfield, a player who feels like he wants to be a 10 in the center of the park, but will probably be more and more of a winger as time goes on. And he’s also still 18. Development is rarely a straight line, and while it’s technically true that Clark has only made three sub appearances for New York in 2022, it’s also true that he’s only failed to appear in a game in which he’s been available for the Red Bulls one time this season. With those very limited minutes, he’s still managed to grab an assist.
Sometimes this just happens with younger players who turn pro. But, taking the brighter outlook on all of this, Clark is still young, and he’s signed to Leipzig, who aren’t going to just let him wither on the vine. There’s already talk of a possible loan move to Belgium in the summer if his MLS minutes don’t pick up. We know he has talent (as evidenced by those goals), and we know that it’s in Leipzig’s best interests to help foster that talent. My best advice is to trust in those things, and not worry too much about a few sub appearances and an injury lay-off.
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