After almost a year and a half of negotiations, defender Jeff Parke and Seattle agreed to a deal.
TUKWILA — Finally.
At long last, Sounders FC defender Jeff Parke had his first training session as an official member of the team Tuesday. Despite almost a year and a half of negotiations, Parke and Seattle failed time after time to finalize a contract. Few outside the process expected to hear back from the 28-year-old when he left the team on April 1.
Fast-forward six weeks, and a deal was finally announced Friday. Parke said he’s happy the ordeal is over.
“We’ve been going back and forth for a while,” he said. “It’s just a process that takes a lot out of you. … Now that it’s behind me I can start getting settled, start getting used to the team and playing, and helping the team out the best way I can.”
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Seattle acquired Parke’s rights from New York in the 2008 expansion draft, but no agreement was reached before the team’s inaugural season. Parke ended up playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer Leagues First Division for a couple months during the summer of 2009, but hasn’t played a competitive match since.
In February, Parke rejoined Sounders FC before a preseason trip to La Manga, Spain, but eventually left the team last month, again without a deal in place.
Parke went to Germany to explore some other options and to train, but remained in contact with the team. When another offer from Seattle came in, Parke said it was time to put his pride away and sign.
Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer said the team’s interest in Parke never waned, despite the drawn-out negotiations.
“Jeff is a good player, and we’re always looking to sign good players,” Hanauer said. “Obviously it wasn’t the most direct route to getting him on board, but I tend not to be too emotional about these types of issues.”
Coach Sigi Schmid said Parke fits in as a central defender — his best position — and also as an outside defender. The depth he brings to the backline was worth the wait.
“He’s a player we wanted to get here at the beginning of the 2010 season, but for whatever reasons it didn’t work out and didn’t work out and didn’t work out,” Schmid said. “Now it’s finally worked out and we are happy to have him here.”
Schmid also said he isn’t too worried about chemistry issues with Parke’s addition, despite the saga of trying to get him signed. Parke agreed, citing the familiarity with the team having been in camp three times already.
“As long as you’re training and putting the effort in, you can’t fault the guy or say, ‘Hey, he’s not fitting in,’ ” Parke said.
• Michael Seamon, the team’s second-round draft pick out of Villanova, rejoined practice Tuesday after receiving his degree in criminal justice over the weekend. Seamon trained with the Wildcats’ college team during his three-month break, but said he’ll need time to catch up. “It was nice to be back out here, but it was pretty tough with the speed of play (compared to college),” said Seamon, who is unsigned.
• Tyrone Marshall has been retroactively credited with an assist on the game-winning goal by Fredy Montero in a 1-0 win against New York on Saturday. Montero’s goal has been nominated for MLS Goal of the Week.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com