Jeff Parke, an All-Star missing from the ballot
Last week, mlssoccer.com announced the eight D.C. United players who are on the 2014 All-Star ballot. These eight were selected by media members from around North America. Now, there are 152 players to choose from to represent MLS against Bayern Munich in July.
That’s the process that lead to eight outstanding D.C. United players being chosen, but one much-deserving veteran was left off: Jeff Parke.
The talented center back from Abington, Pennsylvania has been a huge part of United’s success this year. His poise and composure in the back inspire confidence through the rest of the team and the coaching staff.
There’s an expression in soccer that goes something like this: “When you don’t notice a center back, it means he’s doing his job.” Parke quietly goes about his business. He rarely gets beat, which fans were worried about when the Black-and-Red first signed both him and Bobby Boswell.
There was a genuine apprehension in the media about having two players over the age of 30 as the center back duo. But, experience trumps youth in this case. The talented pairing has played the most combined games of any other center back pairs in all of MLS over the past ten seasons, and it shows.
The angles Parke takes to slow down attackers, the cover he provides to both Boswell and his outside backs, the relentless pressure he puts on opponent’s strikers, the information he provides to his center midfielders, his dominance in the air and the poise he possesses on the ball are all things that make him an exceptional defender and a no-brainer for an MLS All-Star nominee.
Parke’s incredibly high soccer IQ produces both intangibles and measurable results. Let’s look at some of those measurable statistics:
Parke has started all 13 games this season. United is second in the East with a record of 6-4-3, while only giving up 14 goals; that’s 1.08 goals allowed per game, which is good for third-best in MLS. Additionally, DCU has recorded five shutouts on the season; that’s 38.5% of games in which United hasn’t given up a single goal. It is also second-fewest in the Eastern Conference, only behind Toronto FC, a team that’s played three fewer games than DCU.
All of United’s All-Stars are deserving of the love they’re getting, but Parke is too.
To check out who did make the ballot and to vote for you favorites to rep the Black-and-Red in Portland, click here.