Keeper Wars Director - Louisville City FC's 2019 emergency back-up goalie!
Morning Coffee: Who is Louisville City FC's emergency back-up goalie?
Goalie Casey Clark was in St. Louis Wednesday and was called up to Louisville City FC's game on Saturday because of injuries. Courier Journal
As Casey Clark tells it, you can see why he calls it a "pretty crazy story."
He got a phone call Wednesday, and after his convincing his side job — what he called a "permit utility thing" in St. Louis — to let him take time off, he jumped in his car bound for Louisville late Thursday night.
He arrived at 2 a.m., and was practicing with Louisville City FC early the next morning, thanks to injuries to his fellow goalies. He received his No. 30 uniform on Saturday, and sat on the bench against Ottawa Fury FC, serving as the team's emergency back-up.
"I'm here to help," said the 25-year-old Snelling, California native. "I want to make sure that everybody knows I don't wish injuries on anybody. ... If I'm able to come in and help out while they're hurt and injured, I'm all for it."
The term "emergency backup goaltender" is more synonymous with a different sport: hockey. There was Scott Foster, the 36-year-old accountant who played for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2018. Or Tyler Stewart, the 25-year-old vending machine worker, who hopped on the ice for warm-ups for the St. Louis Blues in 2017. And several more.
But an emergency goalie in the United Soccer League? Clark may have started a trend.
It's important to note that Clark didn't lack the credentials. He played college at Doane University, a small liberal arts school in Nebraska, and then professionally in the Premier Development League for Lane United FC and the St. Louis Lions. He moved indoors in 2016, signing with the St. Louis Ambush of the Major Arena Soccer League.
His performance there caught the eye of St. Louis FC, another USL team. Through a series of connections, he was brought in to train with LouCity after his Ambush season ended in late March. But he headed back to Missouri without a contract.
That changed this week after Tim Dobrowolski injured his calf in what was a non-contact injury. With fellow keeper Chris Hubbard already out with a leg injury, that left LouCity with just one healthy keeper: Ben Lundt. So Clark got the call.
Coach John Hackworth joked Saturday that he needed "a whole press conference just for that story." The short version is they picked Clark because he made an impression on the field and in the locker room during his trial. The opportunity was more freakish.
"I can't even make up the craziness of what we've dealt with in terms of injuries," Hackworth said, before searching around for a wood surface, so he could knock on it.
Clark sat on the bench Saturday night as Louisville City played perhaps its best match of the 2019 season, an eventual 1-0 win. He almost got into the game late when Lundt was up-ended by an Ottawa player on a free kick. Lundt was checked by a trainer but stayed in.
"I've seen those type of things and I've been a part of those collisions," Clark said. "It could of been anything, so you just got to be ready. I was ready to hop in and be there if I needed to be."
After the game, both Hackworth and Clark said they're not sure how much longer Clark is going to be in Louisville. They still don't know the extent of Dobrowolski's injury, but Hubbard is nearing a return.
Clark said he's hoping his extra status as a good luck charm helps keep him around a little bit longer.
"Somebody did say I was 1-0 with the team," Clark said. "If I can help them keep winning, I'd love to do that."