VANCOUVER, BC – It's safe to say that Tim Parker's rookie MLS season has exceeded his expectations.
Drafted 13th overall by Vancouver Whitecaps FC in this year's SuperDraft, Parker didn't really know what to expect as he made his journey to the pros, simply targeting getting some playing time in MLS and “a couple of starts.”
With 14 MLS appearances for the ‘Caps to date, along with 13 starts and two pro goals, it's been quite the year for the Hicksville, New York native.
Roommates on the Road: Tim Parker and Spencer Richey
“To be honest, I didn't really have too many goals to reach other than try to get as many games as I could,” Parker told MLSSoccer.com. “Whether that was at MLS or USL level, which I thought I would have been involved in a lot more than I was this year. But I'm thankful that I got the opportunities that I did at the MLS level and I made the most of them.”
Described by Carl Robinson as "the best player at the combine,” the ‘Caps coach courted Parker early but didn't expect him to be still available so late in the first round of the draft. His pleasant surprise has now turned to sheer delight at how well Parker has adjusted to life in MLS.
Injuries and suspensions are likely to see Parker finish the season as one of Vancouver’s first choice centre backs and he's started eight of Vancouver's last nine matches. His excellent form and hard work may have seen him established in one of those positions without that catalyst.
“After I got signed, I wanted to check to see how many centre backs they had,” Parker laughed. “I saw there was five and I knew it was going to be a grind every day. I never came in thinking I'd be the third center back or a starting centre back.”
“I knew I was going to have to come in and show what I had, even further than what I did throughout my senior year at college, to make sure that they knew that I was able to play at this level."
Parker had never been to Canada before being drafted by Vancouver. Now he feels right at home, both in the city and in the league, to which he's made a smooth transition from the college ranks.
Watching Parker this season, a lot of things stand out. His obvious skill and composure is clear to see, but there's a maturity there that the majority of rookies coming into the league don't have.
That comes in part from being captain at St. John's University, but he's looked like a seasoned pro at times, not a player starting off his pro career.
“I've been very fortunate that I've adjusted pretty well,” Parker admits. “But I also think that it ties back to my college days and my coaches expecting a lot of me and asking a lot of me, to the point where then I start to expect a lot out of myself.”
Vancouver have kept five clean sheets this year with Parker in the backline and he's looked comfortable alongside all four centre back partners that he's had this season.
Parker's form and composure has continued to impress and he's hoping it may have caught the eye of the U.S. national team selectors.
The defender was previously involved with the national team at U-18 level and having watched the U.S. U-23's recent Olympic qualifying campaign, Parker would love to be involved in the next year's playoff with Colombia for a final place in Rio.
“I've had a good year and it's kind of setting a base for where I can be and it's setting me a little bit of a standard,” Parker said. “Here, I can build on it. Hopefully the U.S. team see me building on it and hopefully they can see potential. If not, that's how it's going to be and that's fine. But I hope that one day my name gets called in and I'm able to make the most of the opportunity.”
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