Sounders Insider

Former NY defender Jeff Parke works with team

Sounders expansion pick Jeff Parke worked out with the Sounders this morning at Starfire after a delayed arrival that included working out with three teams in Belgium.

Parke said he could have signed overseas -- and that playing overseas remains a career goal -- but that he finally decided Sounders might be the best next step for his career.

"For me, I'm familiar with MLS," Parke said. "I had a decision to make when I was in Europe whether I wanted to stay or go, and I made a decision to come back. Sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side, as they say. The situations that I was in were difficult. I didn't want to put myself in a situation where it was unpleasant every day. SO I made the decision to come back and be part of this league and this team. If it works out here, that's great, but we'll see."

That last part refers to the fact that Parke hasn't signed yet. He's in to do some work and is still negotiating with the club -- although it sounds like both sides expect a deal to be made.

However, during Parke's free-agent tour, the Sounders protected themselves by stocking up on other defenders, so the role they may have once envisioned for him may have changed.

"We have some players out there who are playing well," coach Sigi Schmid said. "He's definitely an MLS-quality player. He's a player with a lot of experience in this league. He's been a quality defender. He gives us great depth, and we're never going to turn depth away."

Parke said he has kept in shape during his globe-trotting. However, even if he signed immediately he wouldn't be eligible to play for the Sounders until their April 18 game at Chivas USA as he still has three games remaining on his suspension from last season for violation of the MLS substance-abuse policy.

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