Seattle Sounders defender Jeff Parke may not have been around for his club’s biggest triumph at RFK Stadium — the 2009 U.S. Open Cup final — but it does not mean he will be any less eager to get a piece of D.C. United on Wednesday night (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).
“I can’t stand [D.C. United] and I don’t like playing against them,” Parke told MLSsoccer.com. “When I was in NY, they were always our rivals and always beat up on us. They always had an edge and were always a tough team to play against.”
The 29-year-old central defender played for New York from 2004-08 before being selected by Seattle in the Expansion Draft and putting pen to paper with the club in 2010. A native of Downington, Pa., who played for youth powerhouse FC Delco, Parke followed the league close enough during his youth to be familiar with D.C. United’s history.
“We’d see them on TV and hear about them the most [of all MLS teams],” Parke said. “They were winning a lot of titles and they were the best team and played the best.
“They don’t have the same edge [today] that I remember DC having. They’re more of a skilled team [now]. In the past, it was more about heart and battling for 90 minutes and they gave you a physical, hard game. From that aspect, they’re still building and still trying to find their identity as a team. But they have talent and depth to spring goals on you.”
Stopping United from scoring will be Parke’s job should he be called upon on Wednesday night. He has not featured in the starting lineup for the last two league matches, as Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni were paired in the middle of the back line. Both matches finished with shutouts for the Sounders.
Parke says the two weeks off have served him to recharge and recover from minor knocks, but he’s gunning on reclaiming his starting spot. He’s not necessarily a fan of squad rotation.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “It puts you out of rhythm and you lose confidence and lose games. And if your team goes on a win streak, you might not play for five to 10 games.
“When you’re not playing as good as you want to play and the coach doesn’t see you playing at your best, sometimes he needs to give you a break and try different things. I’m healthy and ready.”
After starting the season with two losses in which they failed to score a goal, Seattle have been on a six-game undefeated run despite losing two starters — Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White — along the way.
Parke says the streak has infused the squad with confidence and they will look to continue this stretch with back-to-back matches on the road at RFK Stadium on Wednesday and at Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday. (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live)
Although Parke is wary of the speed and quickness of DC’s attackers, the runs made by forward Charlie Davies and the skills of Chris Pontius, he believes that a full six points is very possible by the time the weekend is up.
“We’re capable of getting six points in these two games,” Parke said. “We say a point-and-a-half a game is the way you want to do it. So four points right now would be great and keep us heading in the right direction.”