— Marc Connolly (@mconnolly10) January 14, 2014
This morning, Marc Connolly of ESPN reported that the Philadelphia Union traded veteran centerback Jeff Parke to their southern I-95 rivals D.C. United for former homegrown player Ethan White and the number one spot in the allocation order. Steven Goff of the Washington Post confirmed the trade a short time later. It is widely believed that the Union will use their new allocation slot to sign USMNT midfielder Maurice Edu, who is currently struggling to find playing time for Premier League side Stoke City.
White, 23, is a quick, physical centerback that started 13 games for DC United last season. In addition, he was a key component in United's US Open title run. After the Dejan Jakovic-Brandon McDonald centerback pair failed miserably (Jack McInerney had a beauty of a goal thanks to them) and McDonald was shipped off to Real Salt Lake, White became a starter. He struggled immediately and was benched after a disastrous performance against Chicago Fire in July. However, he worked his way back into the lineup and reclaimed his starting spot in September. He started impressing observers and showing why DC United signed him to a HomeGrown Player contract in 2011. His strong play culminated in helping DC United pull a stunning 1-0 upset over Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup Final on October 1. Unfortunately, White missed much the final month of the season with injuries.
White is a young defender who should compete with Okugo and a centerback taken in Thursday's Superdraft. I'd be cautious if the Union pair him with Brotherly Game MVP Amobi Okugo, neither player is very good in the air and the team would suffer the consequences on set pieces next season.
Jeff Parke was one of the bright spots in a otherwise disappointing 2013 season. The 31-year old centerback arrived in Philadelphia as a hometown hero, but now the Abington native finds himself 90 miles south on a rebuilding D.C. United side. Parke made it clear in an official statement that he was not happy with today's move:
Jeff Parke, per Union release: "For reasons that I can only describe as a personal matter, I am leaving my hometown and this great club."— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) January 14, 2014
The Union's public relations record isn't the strongest by any means, but the club might be on the right side for once. Trading Parke for White allows the club to cut salary (Parke made 216K last season, while White earned 91K) and earn the top spot in the allocation order, making them the first club to get a shot at Maurice Edu.
Ives Galarcep reported this morning that the Union are indeed trying to sign the 27 year old American international, who has struggled to find playing time for Stoke City for the past couple seasons. Edu is a candidate to earn a spot on the USMNT's 25 man World Cup roster this summer, but to do so Edu needs to show Jurgen Klinsmann he's in form. The Fontana, CA native is an immediate upgrade in the Union's central midfield and would likely cost the club a Designated Player slot. If the Union are fortunate enough to sign Edu and at least one of their transfer targets in Sochaux holding midfielder Vincent Nogueira and Argentinos Juniors left midfielder Cristian Maidana, they will be successful in keeping up with what is turning out to be a stacked Eastern conference.