Rennico Clarke
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

T2 Q&A: Rennico Clarke

More than 3,200 miles from home in St. Thomas, Jamaica, defender Rennico Clarke has settled into Portland as one of T2’s first signings. Still just 19 years old, Clarke already has club and international experience to his credit. He talks about playing in Jamaica, the journey to Portland and reuniting with a familiar face upon his arrival in the Rose City in this Q&A.

Welcome to Portland. How have you settled into town and with the club? 
It’s been good so far, you know. It’s been my dream from when I was a kid to play professionally. Now, finally I have a chance with Portland. I’m going to work hard to make life living. It’s good so far. Comfortable so far, enjoying it. Just willing to work hard and make it to the first team.

Tell us a little about where you’re from in Jamaica and how you started playing? 
To be frank, soccer wasn’t my main sport at first. I used to do track, then I started playing cricket and then my high school coach, which is in St. Thomas in Jamaica – a little small community outside of Kingston – he saw me one day kicking some balls and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come and play for the U-16 team?’ I said I would give it a try, and from there on I was playing until I moved up to the highest level in school boy football in Jamaica, which is the Manning Cup. After that, I got a couple of call-ups to the U-20 national team and U-23 team, so that’s how I really started playing. That’s where it all started.

How have your experiences at the club level with Harbour View FC and youth national teams helped prepare you for playing with T2? 
It has prepared me both mentally and physically. Being in Jamaica, it’s a different level of football. Being here, seeing all the types of football that the professionals play here, it’s been good watching them. I’ve learned a lot. Knowing where I’m coming from, knowing where I have to be to be playing in this tournament. I’m just going to work on what I need to work on to be out there on the pitch with the guys.

You and [first team defender] Alvas Powell grew up in the same town in Jamaica. Did your paths cross at all while growing up? 
We’ve been playing from childhood days, you know. When he was in preschool and I was in preschool, we played against each other. We’ve always been challenging against each other. He’s always been winning. He’s always on the other team. It’s been a long time coming and finally, me and him, at the same club and I’m looking to play alongside him.

You’ve training with the team since Day 1 of preseason. What are you looking forward to the most about the first T2 season? 
To just play, have fun and enjoy. Playing with these guys has been great and it’s been fun meeting new people. Just looking forward to the start of the season, progressing and [one day] getting a call-up to the first team. 

T2 open their inaugural USL season this Sunday at Merlo Field against Real Monarchs SLC (6pm PT, STREAM: Tickets start at $10.