Thumbs up all around
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Jeff Parke joined the Starting XI at the last minute on Wednesday in Frisco after a Patrick Ianni suffered a back injury
As kickoff approached at FC Dallas Stadium, the night rapidly changed for Jeff Parke on Wednesday night.
Parke was originally slated to be on the bench for the match, getting a rest for the first time since March 23. Patrick Ianni was set to start alongside Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in a backline that had seen seven players play the four defender positions with a rotation that had given each player at least 270 minutes over the first eight matches of the season.
However, Ianni had struggled with back spasms in recent weeks and was having trouble loosening up for the tilt with FC Dallas.
Parke warmed up as he would for any other match, but watched Ianni through the warmups, too. As it became clear that he wasn't going to be ready to play, Parke quickly shifted his focus and joined the starting group.
"I was keeping an eye on Pat the whole time and I realized he wasn't moving too well," Parke said. "So I got into game-mode."
Head coach Sigi Schmid made the late switch and moved Parke into the starting lineup.
And while Dallas went on the offensive for much of the first half, Parke joined with Hurtado, Marc Burch and Zach Scott to make the home side work for every opportunity they had.
A speedy group, FC Dallas gave Seattle's defense trouble in the first half, forcing goalkeeper Bryan Meredith into four saves before the halftime whistle.
Seattle made their halftime adjustments, though and came out putting the clamps down in the second half.
"For me, I think they're one of the fastest teams in the league and they definitely showed it," Parke said. "In the second half I thought we did well. It was a different second half."
The foursome that started was the seventh different defensive combination used by Schmid this season, putting in plain view the depth of the team, but also their ability to adapt on the fly when adjustments need to be made.
"It doesn't matter who subs in for the defense. They just gel together right away," Meredith said. "The game plan doesn't change. Guys just step in and do the job."
They've been doing the job all season too. With the shutout against FC Dallas, the Sounders now have six clean sheets in nine matches. They haven't allowed a goal in the run of play since a goal from Ryan Johnson in the season-opener, a 3-1 win over Toronto FC.
On Saturday, they will put that run up against Real Salt Lake, a team who is unbeaten in their last four matches.
However, the Sounders remain confident in the group they field, regardless of who makes the 11-man roster.
"It's a great run we're on right now and it's good to keep going and keep winning," Parke said. "No matter what team we play and what lineup we have out there, we're doing well right now."