Colin Clarke enters his sixth season as head coach of now North Carolina FC after being appointed to the position on December 6, 2011. Clarke signed a new multi-year contract with the club on 2014. This new contract will make Colin Clarke the longest tenured head coach in franchise history.
In his first season with the then RailHawks in 2012, Clarke led the team to a fourth place league finish accompanied by a run to the NASL Semifinals and a historic run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup highlighted by a victory over the 2011 and 2012 MLS Champion, LA Galaxy.
In the newly formatted 2013 NASL Regular Season, Clarke led the club to accumulate the most points over the Spring Season and Fall Season with an overall record of 12W-12D-7L in league play. Clarke and the team once again defeated the LA Galaxy in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup and avenged their Fourth Round loss in 2012 with a 3-1 victory over Chivas USA. The trip to the Quarterfinals of the 100th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was the club's longest run in the annual tournament since their Semifinal run in 2007.
The NASL introduced The Championship playoff format in 2014, with the Spring Season and Fall Season winners earning a spot, as well as the following two clubs with the best combined record. With a 11W-5D-11L record, the club finished the year in fifth place in the combined standings. Though Carolina did not participate in the playoffs, the club made it to the Quarterfinals of the Open Cup again, eliminating the Charlotte Eagles, and both the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA for a third and second time respectively.
In the 2015 season, Clarke coached the then RailHawks to third place in the Spring Season, putting themselves in good position for the Fall Season. A seventh place Fall Season finish landed the club a sixth place overall spot in the standings. Carolina played to a 9W-8D-13L record.
2016 saw an ownership change for the club as Steve Malik took over in late 2015. Clarke managed the team to a 7W-5D-10L record and once again had an impressive U.S. Open Cup run, defeating the Charlotte Independence 5-0 in the first round.
Prior to joining the club for the 2012 NASL Season, Clarke enjoyed successful seasons with league rival the Puerto Rico Islanders, FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, and the Richmond Kickers. Clarke was hired to his first head coaching job with the Richmond Kickers by then Kickers General Manager and current North Carolina FC President Curt Johnson in 1998. Over his two seasons in charge in Richmond, Clarke led the Kickers to a 38-18 record.
During the 2003 Major League Soccer season, Clarke took over as head coach of the Dallas Burn (later named FC Dallas) and turned around the club’s fortunes, leading the club to a Western Conference first place finish in 2006. In 2007 Clarke joined the Puerto Rico Islanders. His tenure in Puerto Rico was highlighted by a league regular season championship in 2008 and a historic run to the semifinals of the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League before losing to Cruz Azul in a penalty kick shootout. For his accomplishments over the course of the 2008 season, Clarke was named the league’s Coach of the Year. In 2010, Clarke’s Islanders made headlines in Champions League play once again when they defeated the LA Galaxy 4 – 1 at the Home Depot Center. Following their Champions League success, the Islanders went on to defeat the RailHawks in the USSF-D2 Pro League Championship Final. Clarke left his tenure with the Islanders with a league regular season championship (2008), a league championship (2010), two CFU Club Championships (2010, 2011), and five consecutive playoff berths (2007-2011).
Prior to coaching, Clarke established himself as one of the top players from Northern Ireland representing the country in the 1986 World Cup and experiencing a twelve-year playing career in England. Clarke began his playing career with Peterborough United of the Football League Fourth Division in 1981 and quickly ascended to England’s First Division spending time with Southampton, Queens Park Rangers, and Portsmouth until a knee injury ended his playing career. Appearing 38 times for the Northern Ireland National Team, Clarke recorded a World Cup goal, a hat-trick, and finished his career as the all-time leading goal scorer for Northern Ireland (13). Clarke finished his professional career with 147 goals in 436 matches.