Seattle Sounders FC must have seen a lot of upside to New York Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke, because they gambled to get him.
Parke's MLS contract ran out at the end of the season, and therefore what the Sounders really acquired was his MLS negotiation rights. He's fully free go play anywhere else in the world he chooses, but a smaller European league seems most likely if he doesn't sign with the Sounders.
Before flying to the pre-draft combine in Fort Lauderdale, Sounders technical director Chris Henderson said he believes Seattle is the best spot for Parke at this stage of his career, although Parke hasn't yet agreed.
"We have an offer out to him," Henderson said. "I was teammates with him in New York. Good solid athletic player. He says he has some options overseas. A lot of the options overseas are in Scandinavia, they're not in the big leagues. I think for him if he can come here and have a good two, three years, maybe there's a big club that comes and is trying to get him. For him it would be a better situation for him to sign in Seattle, but we'll see how it plays out. Every player has their own plan."
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One other complication is that if Parke remains in MLS, he will still have to serve the second half of a 10-game suspension issues in October for use of a banned substance.
Either way, it would be useful for the Sounders to know if he is joining them or not before they head into the SuperDraft on Thursday.
Here's the thumbnail on Parke from the Sounders:
Hometown (Citizenship): Downington, Pennsylvania (USA)
Previous clubs: New York Red Bulls (MLS/2004-08)
College: Drexel University (2000-03)
How Acquired: Selected from New York in 2008 Expansion Draft, Nov. 28,
Appeared in 132 games, all for New York, starting 126. Received 2007 Red Bulls Defender of the Year Award. Named 2006 Red Bulls Ironman of the Year, starting a career-high 31 games and logging a team-high 2,771 minutes