By John Boyle
Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer made no secret of the fact that this offseason will bring change, and the first big move happened Friday, with Seattle trading arguably its best defender, Jeff Parke, to his home-town Philadelphia Union for allocation money and a first-round pick in the 2013 supplemental draft.
This move was about allowing Parke to play closer to home, and also one made with an eye on the salary cap, not a decision based on Parke’s ability. Parke, 30, was named Seattle’s defender of the year each of the past two seasons and earned his first U.S. National Team call-up this year. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid praised the growth his team showed defensively the 2012 season, and Parke was a big part of that, but Seattle also has tough decisions to make this offseason when it comes to its salary cap.
“We sit here today in a very cap-constrained situation,” Hanauer said last week in a year-end press conference. “So we’ve got our work cut out for us in terms of who we’re able to bring back, then beyond that what we decide to do with the group that was here in 2012 and how we move forward and construct a team that sets us up for next year and beyond and gets us in a better position to have a better chance of winning an MLS Cup than we had even this year.”
By trading Parke, who made $185,325 in 2012, Sounders FC gets its highest-paid defender off the books, and also adds allocation money, which gives the team a big more wiggle room on the salary cap.
And while this move had to do with business in a league with a strict salary cap, it was also made to allow Parke and his wife Jennifer, who just had their first child, to be closer to home.
“We would like to thank Jeff for his outstanding contributions to Sounders FC,” Hanauer said in a press release. “Jeff has been a fantastic pro and valuable to our success as a team. Sometimes family trumps soccer, and in this case, we were able to help Jeff get closer to his family. We wish Jeff well and he will always have a place in Sounders history.”
Parke, who is from Downingtown, Penn. and played his college ball at Drexel, said in a press release, “It is a dream come true to be able to come home and play in front of my hometown fans and the Union faithful. I’m thrilled to join the organization and get started with the next chapter of my career.”