Photo courtesy of John Todd/ISI
PHOENIX – It’s a good thing the phone didn’t ring a few days earlier. Jeff Parke would have had to consider cutting his honeymoon short to accept the call he had been eagerly anticipating for eight years.
But it all seemed to work out perfectly. The Seattle Sounders defender is in his first US national team camp following the withdrawals of Omar Gonzalez and George John from the roster. And although Parke has been vocal about his omission in the past, he’s not complaining about the circumstances that got him the call from Jurgen Klinsmann.
"It was a great call," Parke told MLSsoccer.com on Monday from USMNT camp at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in northern Phoenix, "and I'm trying to make the best of what they're giving me here."
The big center back had an excellent 2011 season in which he was a rock for Seattle's back line. The seven-year MLS veteran started in 38 games for the Sounders across all competitions and earned the team’s 2011 Defender of the Year nod.
"It was just a great moment for me," he said. "In the back of my mind, I was hoping this day would come for a long time. You're never 100 percent prepared for it, but it's a blessing and definitely one of the highlights of my career. To be out here with a great group of players like they have in camp now and a great coaching staff now is great. I get to learn from the best."
For midfielder Brad Evans, Parke’s Sounders teammate and fellow late addition to camp, the summons from Klinsmann was a long time coming.
"He's 29 years old now and it's about time,” Evans said. “He's been a standout for us in Seattle and just a rock in the back. He's so physically gifted and tremendous in the air. He has speed, he's physical, he's strong. ... I'm nothing but happy for him that he's here."
Luckily for Parke, his new wife is equally happy they didn’t have to end their trip to St. Barts prematurely, either.
"I had a little bit of time at home after our honeymoon, but I got the call [last] Tuesday and got out here [Wednesday]," he smiled. "It was a great feeling."
Bunbury, Beckerman ailing
Forward Teal Bunbury received treatment on Tuesday for a right ankle injury he suffered during Monday's intersquad scrimmage. The injury, fortunately, is a minor one.
"I'm feeling good, I'll be back tomorrow," Bunbury said on Tuesday. "It's nothing serious. Just trying to be cautious. I'll be back [Wednesday] and I'm excited about that. It was just a little knock. I was able to work out today on the bike and do things like that."
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson clipped the Sporting Kansas City striker when the two went after a loose ball inside the area and near the endline. Johnson dove for the ball and Bunbury tried getting a foot to it before attempting to jump over the Chicago Fire netminder. Bunbury stayed on the ground for a few minutes and was attended to.
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman, meanwhile, has been limited so far during camp with an undisclosed injury. The Real Salt Lake captain has been able to stretch and run with the team but hasn't participated in any scrimmage-type sessions since the team began practicing at the Reach 11 Sports Complex soccer fields last weekend.