TIM PARKER: NPSL ALUM FINDS SUCCESS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
At the tender age of 22, Vancouver Whitecaps defender and NPSL alumnus Tim Parker is already a soccer legend. An award-winning player at every stop in his career, Parker is already one of the top players ever produced by St. John’s University and the Brooklyn Italians.
The Hicksville, NY native was a sensation with the Red Storm, appearing in 79 matches over four seasons, leading St. John’s to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a Big East Tournament title. He would register four goals, two of which were game-winners, and four assists in his college career while anchoring a defense that produced a ridiculous 30 clean sheets. Parker earned countless individual awards during his time there, receiving NSCAA All-Northeast Region, All-Big East, and Big East All-Rookie honors.
During the summer seasons, Parker played for the legendary Brooklyn Italians Soccer Club, an organization that has cemented themselves as one of the country’s best thanks to two U.S. Open Cup titles and the success of numerous alumni. The fact that Parker is the highest drafted player in Italians’ history is a feat in itself, considering Shalrie Joseph, Carlos Llamosa, Mike Windischmann, Bill Manning, Juan Carlos Osorio, and Mirsad Huseinovic are all notable Brooklyn alumni.
“It was funny to see a red-headed Irish guy playing for the Italians,” Parker joked. “It was awesome to see the history of the club. We were part of some really important games, like when we played the Cosmos.”
Parker was very complimentary of his time in the NPSL.
“Playing in the NPSL was a really good experience. The competitiveness was awesome. There were a lot of people wanting to make a name for themselves. There were some great rivalries; ours was the New York Red Bulls.”
Brooklyn Italians Director of Coaching Dominic Casciato was quick to add to Parker’s story, singing his praises and speaking about his tremendous potential.
“He was physically dominant, physically gifted. He was big, strong, quick, and had good feet. The sky’s limit for Tim and he has a fantastic attitude.”
Casciato also said that Parker reminded him of a young Sol Campbell, a player with great pace that could use his speed to get out of trouble. Casciato should know Parker better than anyone since he trained him for the MLS Combine. Parker called Casciato a “major influence,” someone who helped get him to MLS.
Another important figure in his journey to MLS was NPSL Chairman and Brooklyn Italians Vice President Joe Barone. Parker said that he often spoke to Barone and that he found him to be very supportive at all times.
Parker’s success in New York helped prepare him for a whirlwind rookie season.
“It was an honor to be drafted by the Whitecaps. The whole experience has exceeded my expectations. As a team, we have accomplished a lot, but we have a lot more work to do.”
Vancouver has been in the mix for the Supporters’ Shield all season and the team currently sits at second place in the Western Conference. Parker hopes to play in a playoff game and help the team pursue the MLS Cup.
In addition to success in league play and already winning the Canadian Championship, Vancouver also participated in the CONCAF Champions League and Parker scored his first pro goal there against the Seattle Sounders.
The goal, best described as a backheel flick, was one that gave him national attention and for good reason. Many see it as one of the best goals of the 2015 MLS season.
“It was an awesome feeling,” Parker continued. “I felt lucky and very fortunate. Getting that goal meant a lot to me and the team.”
Scoring against the Sounders was extra special considering the intense rivalries of the Pacific Northwest. Much of the rivalries’ appeal is the incredible supporter groups that passionately follow teams in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.
“We have some of the game’s best rivalries. It’s been quite an experience. Our supporters have given me a lot of love. I have received many heartwarming messages, tweets, and texts.”
Whitecaps supporters have a lot to look forward to with the playoffs on the horizon and it has to be comforting to know that you have one of the league’s most promising defenders leading their backline.
Parker is already a legend in the minds of many, which is impressive for a 22-year-old who got his start a few years ago in the NPSL. He’s come a long way and as Dominic Casciato put it, “the sky’s the limit” for Tim Parker.