Every soccer fan at St. John’s knows the name Tim Parker. Parker was the model of consistency at St. John’s throughout his decorated four-year career as he played in 79 of 80 matches, starting all but one. After such an illustrious collegiate career, Parker is now on a new path, becoming one of the best young defenders in Major League Soccer (MLS) for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Parker, a Hicksville, N.Y. native, started playing soccer at the age of three. As he grew up, he continually excelled at soccer and lacrosse. During his time playing for Hicksville High School, he was recognized with many accolades, including being a four-year letter winner in both sports. When the time for college came, Parker had to make a decision: lacrosse or soccer?
Parker was at a crossroads of his future athletic career. The decision the high school senior was about to make was going to change his life forever.
“I got recruited to play lacrosse at a lot of different universities including St. John’s,” Parker said. “But, I thought that the upside for my soccer career was more than my lacrosse career and I thought I could possibly make a living of out my soccer career.”
St. John’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur said of recruiting Parker, “Tim was a great center back who played for Hicksville. He’s a great, strong and athletic kid with great physical and technical tools. He comes from a great family and we knew Timmy would be really coachable, really intense and really focused.”
During Parker’s St. John’s career, he anchored an elite defensive core to 30 clean sheets, three straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2011-13 and a Big East Tournament title in 2011. His personal accolades were just as impressive as he was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team his freshman year, the Big East Second Team his sophomore year and the Big East First Team in his junior and senior years. Parker also tallied four goals, two of which were game winners, and four assists.
Parker’s impressive collegiate career led him to be selected 13th overall in the first round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Jan. 15.
“I got to go to the draft with my family and coach Masur was even there,” Parker said. “I was just so happy to hear my name called.”
“We knew about Tim going into the Combine and he was arguably the best center back there,” Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson told mlssoccer.com following the draft. “He’s educated, he’s cultured. I think the fair thing to say about him is he’s a typical Whitecaps player. He fits the mold that I am and he also fits the mold that the club is,” Robinson said. “He’s very respectful, he’s honest, he’s hard working and I feel that he is MLS-ready now. I think he’s got great attributes for a defender. It was the perfect fit for me.”
Parker made his MLS debut on May 2 against the Portland Timbers on the road as a late substitution. Ever since his debut, Parker has been getting more and more playing time as he has played nine games, starting eight of them.
The biggest difference between the college and pro-game is the speed of play, according to Parker.
“The game really jumps and moves a lot faster up here than it moves in college,” Parker said.
The nation was made aware of how good Parker really is on Aug. 5 during CONCACAF Champions League play. Whitecaps FC was facing off against the Seattle Sounders in Vancouver, and, with the game tied 0-0 in the 61st minute, the Whitecaps were set up with a corner kick. Vancouver midfielder Pedro Morales lined up for the corner and hit a low arching ball towards the left side of the 18-yard box. Parker came rushing towards the box and, at the edge of the box, flicked the ball off the back of his heel and somehow found the back of the net for an amazing first goal of Parker’s pro career.
“It was one of those things where we all had deigned runs. I was fortunate enough that the ball came to me and I was able to get something on it. It took a good bounce and it went to the back of the net. I was so happy,” Parker said of his goal. “I’ve always wanted to get on the score sheet in any way possible. To have my first goal be at home at BC Place in front of our fans, I was ecstatic.”
Parker would score again in CONCACAF play on Aug. 26. versus Impact de Montreal in the Amway Canadian Championship final in the 53rd minute to help Vancouver FC win the 2015 Amway Canadian Championship.
Tim Parker’s decision to choose soccer over lacrosse when he was making his college decision was a choice that has shaped the rest of his life. That choice led him him to St. John’s and the tutelage of coach Masur and his staff and eventually ended in him reaching the highest level of the sport when he was drafted by Vancouver FC.
“I was really excited [to hear my name called],” the always humble Parker said. “I was just so fortunate.”