Jeff Parke returned to MLS league action and faced a big man. Not just a target forward, but one who certainly has bulk behind him. But the game against Colorado was more than just about Parke and Casey, for Parke this was a return to a league where he had made a solid name for himself. He spoke to me at practice Monday
It feels good. But it sucks to lose, so it was bittersweet. I was glad to be out there, but at the end of the day it wasn't what I hoped for.
In a match that saw a bit of inconsistency, from a misplayed backwards pass that led to a corner, followed by immediate redemption when he won the header on the in-swinger, Parke showed glimpses of greatness, and a bit of issues with his lack of playing time recently. Sigi noted it when talking about Jaqua and Vagenas coming back too early.
I think you could even see the rust on Jeff Parke and maybe the rust contributed a little bit (to Casey's goal).
In Parke I think we saw a solid contributor who might not be Hurtado, but could be the best 3rd Centerback in the League. This will be crucial in the second half of the season with the potential for a deep Open Cup run and CCL Group Stage. Parke didn't get to start his return with an easy match though. He started with one of the more physical forwards in Major League Soccer.
To get thrown into it.
"Thrown into? Like literally thrown into it?"
Literally yes. It was a physical game you know. The ref wasn't calling much, but you just deal with it. He's a good player, a strong guy. I just have to be stronger. That's the bottom line.
This isn't a neophyte to MLS. He's not a sophomore. In his past 6 years in leagues with predominantly USSF referees he has 146 appearances. He isn't making excuses. "I just have to be stronger."
Parke is 6'1" and while not slight of frame he certainly doesn't have the Conor Casey build.
But, in defense it often isn't about singular match-ups, but how the entire line communicates and helps each other.
It's good. It will take some time to work, but I mean Tyrone's a veteran he's been around the league a while, played a lot of games. He's experienced, he knows the game.
Jeff Parke didn't make excuses. He just demands of himself that he be better. For a first competitive match since mid-season last year I saw a player with strong communication, one who demanded that his small mistake didn't lead to a bigger one, and a player who tried to create opportunity for an opposing run.
I also saw a player who did get run over, but one who will not blame the guys with whistles and flags, but instead just demands of himself that he be better.
This weekend he gets either the 6'1" Kheli Dube or the 5'10" Zack Schilawski. But he goes from bulldog to greyhounds. MLS is a parity league, and so this isn't an off week, just a change in strategy and opponent.