Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
Shortly after reports started to spread, the Sounders officially announced that their top defender had been sent to his hometown team.
The long rumored trade of Jeff Parke finally became official on Friday when it was announced that the Seattle Sounders sent the centerback to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money and a first-round pick in the upcoming Supplemental Draft. Parke had played more minutes than any other Sounders defender since joining the team in the middle of 2010 and was coming off what head coach Sigi Schmid called his best season.
"We would like to thank Jeff for his outstanding contributions to Sounders FC," Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer said in a team release. "Jeff has been a fantastic pro and valuable to our success as a team. Sometimes family trumps soccer, and in this case, we were able to help Jeff get closer to his family. We wish Jeff well and he will always have a place in Sounders history."
Parke and his wife are both from the Philadelphia area and they are expecting their first child soon. With his contract up, he had apparently requested to be allowed to join a team on the East Coast, with the Union being his first choice.
"It is a dream come true to be able to come home and play in front of my hometown fans and the Union faithful," Jeff Parke told the Union's website. " I’m thrilled to join the organization and get started with the next chapter of my career."
In addition to fulfilling Parke's desires, clearly his salary was also helpful. The Sounders are already well over the salary cap heading into 2013 and he was due to make around $200,000. Although the exact amount of allocation the Sounders received is unknown, it is likely to be at least $75,000.
Assuming they received the Union's natural pick, it would be the 43rd overall pick. It is worth noting that Andy Rose was the 44th player taken in the 2012 draft.
While this move was perhaps necessary, filling Parke's shoes will not be easy. Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso were the only two Sounders to play more minutes than Parke this year despite being benched for the first two games. Parke responded to the benching by putting together a solid season, for which Schmid said he deserved consideration as Defender of the Year.
That leaves Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado as the likely starters in 2013, but the depth chart is very murky after that. Zach Scott would likely be the No. 3 centerback if the season were to start today with Andrew Duran the only other natural center back on the roster. It's probably safe to say the Sounders will be looking to bolster their centerback ranks in the coming weeks and months.