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Union sign Jeff Parke — confirmed

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect the Union’s confirmation of the deal.

Philadelphia Union have acquired 30-year-old center back Jeff Parke from the Seattle Sounders.

The Union gave up allocation money and their first pick in the 2013 supplemental draft. Salary details as per league and club policy, were not announced, but Parke made $185,300 with Seattle in 2012.

Parke joins a long list of past and current Union players with local roots and is the first projected to be a regular starter. He was born in Abington, grew up in Downingtown, and played club ball for FC Delco before playing in college for Drexel University.

“It is a dream come true to be able to come home and play in front of my hometown fans and the Union faithful,” Parke said. “ I’m thrilled to join the organization and get started with the next chapter of my career.”

In 2004, he was selected by New York MetroStars. He was picked up by Seattle Sounders in the 2008 Expansion Draft but was released before the start of the 2009 season. He played one season for Vancouver Whitecaps in 2009 before returning to Seattle in 2010.

On Oct. 16, 2008, Parke, along with New York goalkeeper Jon Conway, received a ten-game suspension and fine after testing positive for the banned performance enhancing drugs androstatriendione (ATD) and boldenone metabolites. Both players said they unknowingly ingested the banned substances after consuming over-the-counter dietary supplements.

Rumblings of a possible move to the Union began early last week. The Seattle Times Sounders FC blog noted that Parke, whose wife was due to give birth to the couples first child at the end of November, “made a point of mentioning his family would be key in a decision on his future.”

We’ll have more details on this breaking story as they become available.


  1. Well it looks like unless we sell Valdes or Soumare we keep our streak of having high priced defender sit on the bench every year alive.

    And if we sell Valdes we keep our new captain every year streak alive too. He is a twofer.

    • That’s true, but only assuming Soumare gets healthy and can play every game. Most good teams need three starting-quality center backs to get through a season. Our early-season defense dance would have been greatly relieved if we’d had three worthy CBs to call on. If Parke hadn’t been signed, then I imagine Okugo would have remained primarily a CB, for better or worse.

      • Gomez is gone, which likely means Okugo will move up to split time with Carroll or fill in at the back as necessary. Soumare was a Nowak move, he was dreadful in his only appearance and may not be the same player he used to be with recurring knee issues, if that’s the case. Either way Parke is 31 so if he can come in and serve as a veteran leader and quality fill-in – a la Chris Albright – that sort of presence is sorely needed on this team. It’s a good move.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        It’s unfair to evaluate Soumare on that one game. He was rushed back and was clearly less than 100%. If he isn’t fit after the preseason, then start talking about him being a bust. Until, I’m assuming he’s ok and on the path to being ready for 2013.

  2. Valdes is gone. I’ve accepted it as a forgone conclusion. The Union have four center backs that could start on virtually any team in the league. No way they keep it that way.

  3. I’m really amazed at how people view Okugo. Right now, it’s MLS_Analyst. Is a surprisingly good half a season at a new position all that is needed before penciling in a position change for the rest of a players career?
    Okguo played DMid his whole life. He was enough of a DMid prospect to go top ten in the draft and get constant call ups to the NT.
    And now he’s a CB? I’m really surprised.
    I look at this move as saying Okugo is going back to DMid (where his ceiling is easily MLS All Star), and we now have a CD rotation of 3 starting quality CBs, at a time when our top CB may be getting offers from Europe.
    Am I that off base?

    • No, this is exactly my thinking.

    • I think you are on base

    • Good points, but also worth noting he played CB as a youth international as well. This wasn’t the first time he did it. Okugo is basically like Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu.

      As for other comments on this thread, someone will go. The Union are unlikely to keep the salaries of Parke, Valdes and Soumare on the books for a full season, regardless of where Okugo plays.

  4. You will all love Jeff Parke with your collective heart the way you did Danny Califf by midseason. He’s one of the best human beings in MLS, and a Philly guy through and through.

  5. They must be planning on moving a CB. Because other than that why waste a our precious allocation money on the only place on the field where we need the least anount of help.

    • Not necessarily. If Soumare isn’t healthy, then Parke slides in next to Valdes and Okugo moves up and pushes (thank God) Lahoud to the bench. Or better yet Lahoud is part of a package for the large target forward we still haven’t acquired.

      While DEF isn’t an area of top concern, it is paper thin, and when Valdes went on Intl duty it showed. As for allocation, we don’t know how much changes hands, so it is difficult to tell how strong of a deal this is. One way to look at it is we acquired a starting MLS (CONCACAF CL) CB for a supplemental (like a 3rd/4th round pick) and cash. On the face of it, who wouldn’t make this deal?

  6. 5 man back line? Allow Sheanon and Garfan to play more as wing backs? Plays to their strength on the ball. Just saying, it is worth a passing thought. 5-3-2

    Also, I wouldn’t abandon the thought that Soumare’s knee is shot.

    • I agree with the former rather than the latter, but I considered this last year. If Soumare can find the form he had in Chicago a 3-man back with him, Valdes and Parke would be formidable, especially with Carroll or Okugo parked in front, like a diamond. Williams and Garfan could push even higher, which would alleviate the defensive weaknesses of our current wingers (i.e. Adu). Le Toux and Mac in the middle, that sounds quite intriguing actually.
      Effectively a 3-5(3-2)-2 counting the WBs as mids.

      • I have to admit there is something sexy in that if it works. But that is a lot of if.

      • Hackworth has given no hints that he is interested in 3-5-2. So it’s fun to think about, but I would be really shocked if we saw it.

  7. I would love to keep Valdes, Soumare and Parke with Okugo moving into the holding role in midfield. At the same time, if a European club offers enough cash for Valdes it would only make sense to let him go. It would be his first and last shot to play in Europe.

  8. Valdes has been starting on the Colombian national team. Assuming Soumare is healthy, bringing in Clarke gives the Union the opportunity to work with Valdes to secure him a good spot in Europe or Argentina and a nice transfer fee.

  9. The bare minimum to get into the playoffs in my opinion is jack and le toux having chemistry and one midfielder with vision.

    but in order to full all the holes I think we’d need to get two tall proven mls offensive midfielders with vision. probably a left back. a new veteran goalie. we dont have massive depth at the forward position but we have a lot of potential. I think getting anymore strikers could make us lose focus maybe one more would be good but we want to give hoffman and hoppenot a chance to improve because they look promising. I’m glad we traded martinez cause he wasnt good and there was a question of whether maybe we didnt give him enough time. now we dont have to worry about it and we can focus on the 4. It’s perfect too because hoffman plays like letoux and hoppenot plays like jack. so it keeps things organized.

    also we should sell danny cruz. and we should give pfeffer some more time. He may be the hoppenot, mcinerney, or ray gaddis of the midfield. But he’s really short.

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