Pride of Philly
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Jeff Parke is a native son of the Philadelphia area and would be honored to represent Seattle and MLS in this year's All-Star match against Chelsea.
On Wednesday, July 25, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, the MLS All-Stars take on Chelsea in the MLS All-Star Game.
Sounders FC defender Jeff Parke wants to be there.
"It would mean a lot. Most important would be a championship with the club, but right after that would be the All-Star team," Parke said. "It would be an incredible honor."
He's not just in it for the recognition as one of the league's top defenders though.
Parke grew up in nearby Downingtown, Pennsylvania and a trip to the All-Star game would mean an opportunity to play in front of his friends and family in an incredible celebration of the growth of soccer in America.
"Fans, please, put that into consideration," he laughed, before adding sincerely. "I'm sure everybody would love to play for an All-Star team in their hometown."
Parke is one of six Sounders who are on the ballot for this year's All-Star game. He is joined by forwards Fredy Montero and David Estrada, midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Mauro Rosales and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
His All-Star credentials go far beyond the sentimentality of the pick though.
He came on at halftime in the third match of the season against the San Jose Earthquakes and hasn't missed a start in league play since. Among Sounders FC defenders, Parke is tops in minutes played with 1,167.
This despite starting the season on the bench, a move made after the Sounders suffered a 6-1 loss to Santos Laguna in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series. While he wasn't happy with what he viewed as a demotion, he used the move as motivation to refocus on his training efforts and come back into the lineup even stronger.
"You never want to be in that position, but you can either let it affect you or use it to help motivate you and that's what I did," Parke said. "It's tough. It's not something you want to go through as a player. I was demoted. That can feel like a slap in the face. Especially when you think you're working hard and doing your piece."
Now back in with the team after leaving in the first half of Seattle's 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday, Parke is looking to help the defense get back on track. After allowing just three goals through the first nine matches, the Sounders have now let in 13 during their current run of seven matches without a win.
Even after that run, they are still tied with Sporting Kansas City at one goal allowed per game for the best defensive side in the league.
The Sounders will meet the New England Revolution on Saturday at 4:30 Pacific at Gillette Stadium.
To vote for Parke and the rest of the Sounders for the All-Star Game, click here. Voting closes at 2 pm Pacific on Monday, July 2. The First XI will be announced on July 8.