Philadelphia Union's Jeff Parke plays it safe with hamstring: "What’s the point of coming back too fast?"

CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union will already be without one starting defender for Saturday’s game against the Chicago Fire, as right back Sheanon Williams will serve a one-game suspension for the red card he picked up over the weekend.

But that doesn’t mean center back Jeff Parke will try to rush back to help the already-beleaguered backline.

Parke, who strained his left hamstring against Seattle this past Saturday, did not train Tuesday and says he will exercise caution with the injury.

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“I’ve been around long enough to realize if you fight back just to play one game, you can get hurt in that one game and you’re out for three,” Parke told MLSsoccer.com. “What’s the point of coming back fast when you could have sat out just one?”

For Parke, who guessed he’s 50-50 to play against the Fire, the injury occurred late in the first half of this past Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Sounders when he stretched out for the ball at the end of a run.

At first, he thought he’d be able to remain in the game against his former team. But after standing up, he felt like “it was something that probably would have gotten way worse” and he went to the locker room early.

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“I wanted to be out there,” Parke said. “It’s tough coming off against a team you really want to play against and show well against. It’s disappointing. I was a little bit fearful I was going to be out longer than expected. It was a tough one to come off on and I was more pissed off at that point.”

Parke said his hamstring has felt better since then and that he’ll know more about his status in the next two days. If he can’t play this weekend, Bakary Soumaré – who requested a trade very early in the season because he wasn’t getting playing time – could make his season debut at center back in his place.

“That’s a possibility for sure,” Parke said. “There’s nobody else that can really fill those shoes right now.”

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But even with a makeshift back four that will likely include Soumaré and Gabe Farfan at left back, along with starters Ray Gaddis and Amobi Okugo, Parke believes the Union will still be able to return from Chicago with points in their pocket.

“I’ve played the last couple of years on teams where we’ve only had maybe one guy that was a starter and the team does well and gets the result that’s needed,” Parke said. “I have total faith and believe the guys will get it done. Whoever the coach chooses to play the role will do a great job and we’ll get something good out of it.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.