Photo by ISIphotos.com
So what is next for Jeff Parke? The veteran defender is in Seattle, where he will begin training with the Sounders while they negotiate a contract. Parke is just eager to get back on the field, which won't happen in an official MLS match until he signs and serves the remaining four games of his 10-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
"We're going back and forth," Parke said of his contract talks with Seattle. "There's a number they threw out with the league. At the end of the day you've got to start thinking of your family. I've been in the league for five years.
"I understand how it works and I understand what you've got to go through. I feel like I've paid my dues and I've done my time but obviously it doesn't help with the suspension. We'll figure it out hopefully in the next couple of days what's going to happen and what they're going to do."
Parke is in talks with Seattle after having trials in Belgium fall through, in part because of skepticism about his drug suspension. Despite having his try at Europe be fruitless, Parke doesn't regret his decision to pass on a contract offer from the Red Bulls in order to give Europe a try, a decision that led the Red Bulls to leave him exposed in the expansion draft and signal a sad ending to his time with the Red Bulls.
"They gave me a number and at the end of the day I didn't agree with it," Parke said of his final contract talks with New York. "That was that. I obviously had some hurt and some anger toward the club for how it was handled and how I was kind of just left by myself. I wish they had backed me a little bit more."
Parke also pointed to the timing of New York's contract offer with leading to the failure to reach an agreement with the Red Bulls.
"At the time it was difficult because they approached me the day before they needed to know if they were going to protect me or not," Parke said. "If you really wanted me you would have called me sooner."
Parke served the first six games of his suspension last season, a period that coincided with the Red Bulls surprising run to the MLS Cup final. Rather than take part in that magical run, Parke was not allowed to train with the team or be around the team. The only thing he could was watch the games on television and root his teammates on, even as it hurt him to watch.
"It was tough. I watched every game," Parke said. "The one game in Utah (vs. Real Salt Lake), I didn't have Fox Soccer Channel so I purchased it just to watch the game. I wanted to see what would happen, as much as I didn't want to watch because I was wishing more than anything that I could be there with the team, helping them win.
"I was glued to the television, watching every play," Parke said. "But at the end of the day, once that came you're on your own. You're by yourself and they're playing still. That's how it felt and that's what upset me a lot. It was like everything from the past five years was thrown away because of what happened."
Would Parke ever consider returning to play for New York? Parke left the door open, but acknowledged that there is still some lingering resentment toward his former club that has yet to fade with time.
"You don't ever want to close all doors or shut the door to a place," Parke said. "New York is a great place, and I liked playing with the guys, so I can't say that I wouldn't ever want to go back, but it's going to take some time for me to get over the whole situation and what happened."