Thursday, May 13, 2010

SOUNDERS FC: Defender Jeff Parke finally nabbed from USL Whitecaps

The revamping of the Seattle Sounders’ second year roster continued today with the announcement that Jeff Parke, former New York Red Bull, had finally signed with the club. If you do not remember Jeff Parke or are just in need of a history lesson, read on.

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The MetroStars (a.k.a. the pre-2006 New York Red Bulls) drafted the 6’1”, 185 lb defender from Drexel University, using the 60th and last pick of the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. During his five-year stint in the Big Apple, Parke became an important part of the Bulls’ back line. In 2006, he started a career-high 31 games and after logging a team-high 2,771 minutes of play, the Red Bulls named Parke their Ironman of the Year.

The next two seasons brought less playing time for Parke; 2007 brought 27 starts in 28 appearances, in 2008, he played in 24 games for New York, overall, he made he made 132 appearances in Red Bulls’ livery.

Just as his stock was rising, the MLS suspended Parke and N.Y. goalkeeper Jon Conway for 10 matches each and fined 10 percent of their annual salaries in October 2008 after they tested positive for androstatriendione (ATD) and boldenone metabolites, two banned substances that were part of an over-the-counter nutritional supplement.

Teams were still interested in his services and not even a month later, Seattle selected Parke in the 2009 Expansion Draft from New York. Instead of signing with the Rave Green, Parke decided a stint in the USL was a more prudent choice and signed with the nearby Vancouver Whitecaps. The Sounders invited Parke to participate in this year’s preseason training camps and after a few weeks later, he left to pursue other opportunities.

Finally, after chasing him all the way from New York to the Northwest, the Sounders have their man, but is it worth it? At the time of his signing, Parke was not on the roster of any significant clubs. Seattle’s last good look at him was nearly three months ago, will Parke still be fit enough to make a difference? Has he been keeping in shape with a training regimen during his extended vacation from top-tier soccer?

Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid thinks Parke will be a good addition to the team’s back line.

"He is a very tough, hard-nosed defender who should help our team's defensive efforts," said Schmid

Parke, now 28, is younger and has far less wear and tear on his body than some of the teams recent additions (read: Nkufo), but his body of work in this league is short and somewhat unproven.

Parke will begin training with Seattle on Tuesday, May 18 and will be added to the Sounders’ roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

Reach Galen Helmgren at