Top Stories

Keaton Parks enjoying first preseason experience with Benfica senior team


In 2016, not many people knew who Keaton Parks was. Despite being an FC Dallas academy product, Parks did not come through the conventional soccer pipelines of college or USL, and was a relatively unknown commodity.

In 2018, however, the 20-year-old midfielder is in Benfica’s first team plans and anyone following the U.S. Men’s National Team knows his name well. Parks is currently enjoying his first preseason with Benfica, having made his first appearance for the Portugese giants in 2017.

“It’s my first preseason at this level, and I’m enjoying myself,” he told Ojogo  on Tuesday. “I’m enjoying the team time, working and I hope to stay here in the main squad.”

With Parks in the picture for both Benfica’s first team and also the USMNT starting XI, this summer will be incredibly important for the Texas native’s development.

Parks took big strides to this end in 2017, securing his first cap for the USMNT and making his first appearance for Benfica. Parks debuted for the USMNT in May, coming in for USMNT vet Joe Corona, when the young side faced off against Bolivia.

Getting nearly 30 minutes of play, Parks looked comfortable in the USMNT midfield, and will be competing for a spot in the crowded U.S. side as more friendlies are played later this year.

“There is high level football in the United States,” he said, “but in Europe it is much higher and being here helps me in my development.There are a lot of Americans playing in Europe and they expect us to be the same as any other player on the team.”



    let’s not get ahead of ourselves now.
    this crowded side just crowded themselves out of the Concacaf qualifiers.

    Maybe we need to get a little less crowded and a little more quality

  2. Looking forward to seeing more of this kid at the international level. Parks (and others) are age eligible for the Olympic squad, so there should be any number of chances for him to be evaluated and integrated into the player pool.
    With the failure of the last cycle to qualify for the WC, there was/is a need to transition nearly the entire player pool. If we focus the full MNT right now on the players who are age eligible for the Olympics (with a sprinkling of more veteran players – Steffen, Brooks, Yedlin, Wood, etc…) we should be able to turn the page on this past cycle more quickly, and see greater returns.

    U-23 camps, when started, should focus on those who we are sure we can secure release their for the Olympic qualification tournament. For the most part that will be MLS, Liga MX players and a smattering of players in Europe who are on youth squads, or unlikely to see 1st time action. (Durkin, Klingsman, Marcinkowski, Wright, Ebobisse, Fossey, Glad, Jones, Lennon,Redding, Trusty, D. Acosta, Farfan, Saucedo, Zelalem, De La Torre, Olosunde, Perez, Gaines, etc…)

    Sr. MNT should focus on the very best of the MLS/Liga MX U-23s and EU players who we know will not be released for the Olympic Qualification Tournament. Basically anyone who is on their clubs 1st team and seeing minutes. (Sargent, Adams, Parks, Scott, Robinson, EPB, CCV, McKennie, Hynman, Green, Novakovich, Weah, Pulisic, Siebatcheu, Gall, Moore, Amon, etc…)

    If we qualify for the Olympics, and clubs must release age eligible players, than we can think about who from the Sr. Camps to integrate into the Olympic Squad. If we fail to qualify for the Olympics than we can look at who performed well from the U-23s and has earned a chance to prove themselves at the “A” Sr. level. If we use both levels to test and expand the player pool, than after the 2020 Olympics we’ll have a fully rebuilt Player Pool to work with as we head into the important rounds of the 2022 qualification cycle.

  3. The last paragraph sums it up very well!
    “There is high level football in the United States,” he said, “but in Europe it is much higher and being here helps me in my development.There are a lot of Americans playing in Europe and they expect us to be the same as any other player on the team.”
    USMNT should have high expectations of players at club and country level

    • Anyone that knows anything about the sport would agree that any federation wants its players playing at a high level. The problem is that not all players dream of going to europe, or can’t gwt there for a number of reasons, but that shouldnt mean players not playing in europe are not given a chamce to show their worth with their NT. Players playing in MLS week in and out are simply better off than players in europe not playing first team football, thats a fact. I am not saying players shouldnt strive for european glory but it doesnt suit every player so ignoring the non euro players is dumb and showcasing the inability to be a progressive thinker. There are players all over the world the play in their domestic leagues and contribute mightily for club and country.

      • The other problem is Americans are hardly playing in MLS though too. Most nights there are maybe 4 or 5 Americans for each team, TImbers routinely dresses two or three. The good news is most of the Americans are playing, just some are at lower levels like Parks. I have no idea of how the Portuguese 2nd Division rates, but I would hope a Nat Team coach can watch film of Parks in P2, Trapp in MLS, and Williams in EPL and decide who should be in camp and who should be in the lineup. The Nat team coaches have nothing to do most of the year, they have plenty of time to watch film of all these guys in the pool to rank them, where we the fans are left with hype and youtube highlights.

Leave a Comment