Remember the name. Caden Clark is a star.
An ‘03 from Medina, Minn., Caden has consistently put in the work to punch above his weight since his arrival in 2017, and people are taking notice.
But let’s go back.
Caden started his Development Academy career at Minnesota Thunder, but at an ID camp in 2017 he met Barça Residency Academy’s Miha Kline and eventually made his way to Casa Grande.
Being away from home as a young man is a big learning experience, but Caden was well prepared. His humility as a person drives his tireless work ethic on the pitch, as well as his willingness to spend time with younger players, and his embrace of the life skills taught at the Academy.
“I think they taught me how to be a complete player,” he said. “Offensively, defensively, how to control the game. That’s on-the-field stuff. Off the field, how to be a good person, how to have good manners and have respect for everyone, no matter their status. Always be open and welcoming to people.”
Caden was invited with teammates to the legendary La Masia training center in Barcelona both in 2018 and 2019, the only Barça Residency Academy player to make the trip twice. In February of this year on his second visit, he suited up with FC Barcelona’s Cadet A squad and scored in a friendly against Dutch side SC Cambuur.
In 2018 as a fifteen-year-old, Caden was called up to the U-17’s for their final match of the season against Vancouver Whitecaps. “I was nervous, of course,” Caden said. “It was my first game playing up. And it was a big game because it was a lot of pressure and we won.”
Caden was then called into the Development Academy playoffs and championships with the U-17’s, where he logged 41 minutes over three substitute appearances, helping his squad to an improbable third-place finish in Barça Residency Academy’s inaugural season. “I think it helped me as a player for sure,” he said of the call-up. “It’s a whole new level. Your mentality has to change, and it’s a part of growing up and getting better. I’m happy that I got to go with them, and experience that challenge with them.”
Earlier this summer, still playing up a year, Caden set the 2019 U18/19 playoffs alight with three goals, one in each of his three appearances. His late match-winner against Chargers SC struck an emotional chord across the organization, and Caden’s name began to trend. Top Drawer Soccer honored him as a standout after each match, and named him to the playoffs Best XI.
Caden’s success is mirrored by his effort and stamina on the training pitch, and he’s known for putting in more training than anyone at the Academy. “I’ve trained with USL teams, and they love the work ethic,” he said, “but it’s choosing your moments too. I’ve always been an aggressive player, but I would say that staying engaged definitely came from Sean (McCafferty) coaching me and Ged (Quinn) coaching me. That can change a game.”
Even with all the notoriety and some upcoming trials abroad, Caden is taking a professional approach. The internet, in particular, can bring great pressure on a young player. “I’ve always been taught,” Caden said, “and especially now by my parents to not worry about it, because some days it’s going to be good news and some days it’s going to be bad news. They’ve been telling me ‘Keep your head down, you can’t skip steps, you can’t go from U-19 to the pro first team. You have to keep grinding.’ I’m enjoying the process but not getting comfortable.”