A couple months ago, things couldn’t have been better for Jeff Parke.
He was named Sounders FC’s Defensive Player of the Year at the end of the 2011 season and then in January earned his first call-up to the U.S. men’s national team. For the start of the MLS season, however, he’s been on the bench behind Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni.
Coach Sigi Schmid has long stated he’s felt all three are capable MLS starters, but his decision to bench Parke has raised a few eyebrows.
Parke, 30, was asked about it Wednesday.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m not happy about it, but it’s the coach’s decision. He’s the one with the answers. I guess he’s put some thought into it. It’s frustrating, but the only thing I can do is go out and play and push for the spot. Do I agree with it? No. Do I think that’s the reality of it? No. But that’s his take. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinions and their own thoughts. I’m going to try my best to keep the frustration and anger down. It’s been frustrating, but I guess it’s part of the game.”
Schmid told reporters Ianni started Week 1 against Toronto more so to get fresh legs on the field, after Parke and Hurtado started each leg of a two-game CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Mexico’s Santos Laguna.
Parke was only one of two starters in the CCL series that didn’t carry over to MLS. He said he didn’t feel fatigued.
“I felt (my legs) were all right; it was two or three games into the season,” Parke said. “That’s just (Schmid’s) opinion.”
Parke said he has been in conversation with Schmid and will takes things day by day to get his spot back.
“I guess that’s how it is; (Schmid) runs the ships and that’s how sports are sometimes,” Parke said. “It’s not always in your favor. You’re not always in the coach’s favor. It’s the tough thing about sports, but you got to keep working and keep pushing. As long as the team doing well, that’s all that matters to me really. But in the back of my mind, I also want to play. It’s something that I have to work on, maybe grow a little bit as a player, but if I was happy about it then I really wouldn’t be that eager to get back on the field. It’s not my personality to let something like that just go and let the coach do his thing and not let me say and do my thing.”
Asked if he thought he proved his worth last season, Parke said: “I thought I did.”