For the past couple of months, Philadelphia Union fans have grown impatient as other teams in the Eastern Conference have made some big splashes while the Union have stayed mostly quiet.
But on Tuesday, the Union made a splash of their own, trading center back Jeff Parke to D.C. United for defender Ethan White and the No. 1 ranking in the MLS allocation order.
The allocation order is a Major League mechanism needed to acquire Americans and other former MLS players joining the league from abroad. Getting the top spot from D.C. could land the Union U.S. national team midfielder Maurice Edu, who’s been rumored to return to MLS after playing last year with Stoke City of the English Premier League.
In Edu, the Union would gain a World Cup veteran to run the midfield and could lead to a trade of Brian Carroll, the Union captain who’s started the last three seasons as the team’s starting defensive midfielder.
Either way, White figures to replace Parke as the team’s starting center back, alongside Amobi Okugo.
White, who signed with D.C. United as a Homegrown Player in 2010, logged over 3,000 regular-season minutes and started 34 games in three seasons in D.C.
“We want to thank Jeff for his hard work and contributions to the Union during this past season,” Union manager John Hackworth said in a statement. “We think Ethan is a very talented defender and we are excited to add him to our squad. Additionally, having the number one ranking in the MLS allocation ranking is a great opportunity for us to improve our roster.”
Trading Parke was a surprising move since the 31-year-old defender came over to the Union last year after three standout seasons with the Seattle Sounders because he wanted to move to Philadelphia, his native city. Even more surprising is the fact that it appears Parke requested the trade because of a “personal matter.”
“I want express how incredible it was for me to represent such a great team, city and group of supporters," Parke said in a statement. “For reasons that I can only describe as a personal matter, I am leaving my home town and this great club. This has been an extremely difficult decision for me, but I want to thank the Union fans, coaches, players and staff for helping make last year awesome while playing for my hometown club. My heart and home are in Philly and you have all been fantastic to me from day one. I will miss you and want you to know how grateful I will always be to everyone who made my experience here such a memorable one.”
Swapping the 31-year-old Parke out of the starting lineup for the 23-year-old White will immediately make a young Philly team even younger.
But White has a good pedigree. Prior to signing with D.C. United, White starred at NCAA powerhouse Maryland alongside Union teammates Zac MacMath and Matt Kassel, and played internationally for the US U-20 national team.
The Union will likely continue to be active heading into Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, where they hold two of the top six picks (see story). On top of their possible interest in Edu, a Union official has confirmed the club’s interest in French midfielder Vincent Nogueira and Argentine winger Cristian Maidana.