In what is sure to be a busy off-season, the Sounders made their first big transaction on Friday, sending defender Jeff Parke to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money and a 2013 first-round Supplemental Draft pick.
While losing a valuable piece to the defense that finished second in MLS with 33 goals allowed, the Sounders will see salary cap relief with the trade. The addition of the pick in the Supplemental Draft is also an area where the Sounders have found success in the past.
In the four years of SuperDrafts and Supplemental Drafts that the Sounders have been a part of, they have acquired Mike Fucito, Alex Caskey and Andy Rose, among others, later than the second round of the SuperDraft. Rose was taken in the first round of the Supplemental Draft in 2012 and made 23 appearances for the Sounders in the regular season, 11 of them starts.
Meanwhile, Parke was one of two players remaining from Seattle’s initial haul in the 2008 Expansion Draft, along with midfielder Brad Evans. In 2012, he made his first appearance with the US National Team, debuting off the bench in a 1-0 win over Panama in a January friendly match.
He went on to have a standout season that prompted head coach Sigi Schmid to level high praise for the defender in the closing weeks of the season, noting that Parke was playing “the best soccer of his career.”
In 2012, he played in 30 matches, starting 29 of them to lead all Seattle defenders with 2,568 minutes. He totaled 39 starts in Seattle’s 48 matches across all competitions, giving him 105 appearances in his three seasons with the team.
Parke, 30, was voted as the club’s Defender of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
However, he sought a return to the Philadelphia area. As with Erik Friberg last year, Parke wanted to raise his first child near his family and the Sounders obliged. Friberg went to Malmo in his native Sweden and Parke makes a move near his hometown of Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
“Sometimes family trumps soccer, and in this case, we were able to help Jeff get closer to his family,” Sounders FC owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “We wish Jeff well and he will always have a place in Sounders history.”
A nine-year MLS veteran, Parke had one of the more memorable moments for the Sounders when he scored the stoppage-time winner at CenturyLink Field against Kansas City in 2011 for his only goal in Rave Green.
The Supplemental Draft is scheduled for January 22, 2013. Already holding the 16th overall pick in the first round of the Supplemental Draft, the Sounders FC acquired the fifth overall pick in the swap with the Union.