CHESTER, Pa. – If anybody knows that the Seattle Sounders are better than their 1-3-2 record might indicate, it’s Jeff Parke.
The Philadelphia Union defender played in Seattle from 2010 to 2012 and never missed the playoffs while he was wearing rave green. So Parke is relatively certain the Union (3-3-2) are in for a serious challenge when the Sounders visit PPL Park on Saturday (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“For me, it’s some of the best memories I have and some of the best soccer I ever played,” Parke said of his tenure with the Sounders. “And one of the best organizations I ever played for. Looking back on it, I have a ton of great memories. The fans, the organization, I won some silverware there and I played on some good teams – a lot of great things. I’m very thankful for the opportunities. But now I’m on to the next chapter and this is home.”
Parke and the rest of the backline will certainly have to fix the leaks that allowed Philly’s last two opponents – D.C. and New England – to break out of offensive slumps with multi-goal outings against them.
Union manager John Hackworth hopes that won’t happen again against another team mired in a scoring drought. The Sounders currently rank last in the league with three goals scored – although Hackworth believes that’s an early-season aberration more than anything else.
“Seattle is arguably one of the best teams in the league – certainly on paper they are,” Hackworth said. “[Sigi Schmid] is one of the best coaches in the league and has been. This is going to be one of the best teams we play for sure and we’ll have to significantly improve from our last game if we want to be successful Saturday.”
One thing that will be working in Philly’s favor is having Parke on their side, instead of going against him. The defender has been an instrumental addition to the Union in 2013, just as he was instrumental to Seattle’s success over the past three years.
And even though the Philly native is happy to be playing for his hometown club, leaving Seattle was not something that was particularly easy for him.
“I’m sure I’ll have a little bit more butterflies because it’s guys I played with,” Parke said. “We had friendships. It’s going to be a little bit different for sure.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.