VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Vancouver Whitecaps center back Tim Parker is pretty much your typical New York sports fan.
The Long Island native grew up supporting the New York Rangers in hockey, the New York Giants in football and the New York Yankees in baseball, heading along to watch games at their respective iconic homes.
He went to a few Red Bulls matches with his family, but with his own soccer playing commitments, he never grew up supporting them. English side Tottenham Hotspur got his love instead.
On Saturday, he heads back to the Big Apple as a regular starter for the Whitecaps, as they get set to battle New York City FC (4 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in US). He is set to play his first minutes in his home city as a professional soccer player. That in itself will be a special moment for Parker, but doing so at such a storied venue as Yankee Stadium will make it even more so.
"It'll be amazing," Parker enthused to reporters this week. "As a kid, growing up in New York, Yankee Stadium's kind of this godsend, especially during my age, when they won so many championships. Just so many greats came out of there, so I think it will be amazing just getting the opportunity to play there."
Before being selected by Vancouver in the first round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Parker had never been to Canada before and had spent his whole life in the New York area, going from playing soccer at Hicksville High School to St. John's University.
For all the years he's spent watching baseball at the new Yankee Stadium, to step out and play soccer on the hallowed turf there is something which Parker never imagined he'd be doing.
"I've been to a football game there," Parker revealed. "I was able to see Notre Dame when they played football there, but other than that, I never thought that soccer would be played there again."
When Parker takes to the pitch on Saturday, he’ll have a lot of support there, and not just from ‘Caps fans making the long trip east from Vancouver. Upwards of three hundred family members and friends will be there to cheer him and the Whitecaps on for his homecoming. It’s part of the “community support” that made playing his high school soccer such fun for him.
But as exciting as it will be for Parker to run out at Yankee Stadium, his focus is solely on the game, getting the result to “make up for the points we lost” in a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC on Wednesday. His familiarity with the venue may help with that, as he’s aware that the venue’s peculiarities could impact Vancouver’s wide game if they’re not fully prepared.
"Yankee Stadium's known to be tight, just because of the dimensions they have to deal with," Parker noted. "When that game comes around, we're going to have to develop something that will obviously suit ourselves.
"We know the field's going to be a little bit smaller than usual, so we have to be ready to play in a tight game and be good in situations and get used to the dimensions quick."