Clarke got his start at head coaching in 1998 at the Richmond Kickers. Then, current RailHawks' President, Curt Johnson was the Kickers' General Manager. During his two seasons with the Kickers, Johnson led the team to a 38-18 record.
During the 2003 MLS season, Clarke took over as head coach of the Dallas Burn and led the club to a Western Conference first place finish in 2006.
In 2007, Clarke joined the Islanders. Just a year later, the team won a regular season championship, and made it to the semifinals in the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League. In 2010 Clarke's Islanders defeated the RailHawks in the USSF-D2 Pro League Championship Final.
"Coming to Carolina is a very exciting opportunity for me and my family," said Clarke. "I am very thankful for my time in Puerto Rico and everyone I was able to work with. This is a new challenge and I'm ready to get on the field. This organization has a good history and background and now it's time to win a championship."
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.
"Colin brings the experience and expertise needed to help our organization to higher levels on and off the field," said Johnson. "We are thrilled to welcome him to the organization and know he and his family will be an integral part of this community for many years to come."