Player Name: Jeff Parke's name is Jeff Parke.
Player Position: Jeff is a center back, and he was a mainstay in that position for the Union this season.
Stats: Parke clocked 2744 minutes this year, good enough for 40th in MLS and 18th among all defenders. He played in 31 games, starting all of them. Parke committed only 23 fouls this season, receiving yellow cards for three of them. He didn't manage to get on the scoresheet, but he recorded in assist. According to mlssoccer.com, he was the 37th most efficient passer in the league this season, 7th among center backs.
Evaluation: Jeff Parke, though he appears to be a big bruiser, is an extremely intelligent, fast defender. He may be most recognizable for his beautiful hair or his hard, crunching tackles, but his greatest strength is his ability to read the game like a man who has played professionally for a decade. Though not as quick as his defensive partner, he still has the speed to keep up with the league's better forwards. Parke brings years of experience to a young Union backline, but he can still ball out. Parke was the club's stablest defender from the past season, as Amobi Okugo was prone to the occasional brainfart. Much like the acquisition of a veteran Conor Casey, Parke's signing should be viewed as one of the high points of the Union's season.
What To Expect: Parke should perform similarly in the 2014 season. He didn't suffer any major injuries this season, and is physically able to match his very good 2013 season. He won't have to adjust to a new center back partner, as Coach Hackworth has assured that Okugo will continue to play in the back next season. Parke, now fully resettled in his hometown and comfortable with his teammates, will be an important figure in a Union defensive unit that is poised to shut it down next season.