CHESTER, Pa. – John Hackworth admits he’s not the most impartial source. But when the Philadelphia Union manager looked at the latest US national team roster for the squad’s upcoming World Cup qualifying matches, he was surprised Philly center back Jeff Parke wasn’t included.
“I think I’m biased right now because I think Jeff has been so good for us,” Hackworth said. “But when I read the things about the national team and some of the questions they have at center back, certainly with a very biased opinion, I think Jeff should be included in some of those conversations.”
Because of some injuries, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann wasn’t able to bring in some of the country’s most established defenders for games against Costa Rica on Friday and Mexico on Tuesday. And the 30-year-old Parke, who was called into the last US national team in January, could have possibly provided some veteran depth on the beleaguered backline.
But Parke doesn’t seem overly concerned about Klinsmann’s decision not to call him up.
“I’m not worried about it and not really thinking about it too much,” Parke told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s always good to get called in, so that would be a plus. But I’m more focused right now on playing here and getting this team to winning ways and doing good things here.”
Parke said Klinsmann told him at the January camp that he’s “on the edge of being called in.” The Union center back also knows his age might be a contributing factor to the US coach’s decision.
But, at this point, Parke said he’s mainly worried about gelling with his new Philly teammates and continuing his strong start to his first season with his hometown club.
His teammates seem to appreciate that.
“Jeff’s been huge for us all season,” right back Sheanon Williams said. “He’s also a leader for us – an older veteran that’s played a lot of games and has a lot of experience. That’s big for us. He battles for everything, fights for everything – and seeing him do that makes you want to fight even more.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.