Tim Parker: “We just have to find ways to make it our game and play on our terms.” (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
He played all of 29 minutes and a few minutes of stoppage time and there was plenty for Tim Parker to learn in his debut with the U.S. national team Saturday.
The Americans dropped a discouraging 2-1 decision to the Republic of Ireland in the international friendly in Dublin, Ireland.
Asked what he learned, the Hicksville, N.Y. native replied, “It’s tough to play away. They did a good job with that. But we just have to find ways to make it our game and play on our terms. Going into this week, with training and stuff, we’ll try to do that.”
That will be against France in Lyon next Saturday.
Perhaps Parker will get his first start and an opportunity to settle in and showcase his strengths and what he can do for the team. For the Red Bulls this season, Parker has demonstrated his physical prowess, a never-say-die attitude and good vision in reading the game.
Of course, the international level is a few levels above Major League Soccer and many talented American players haven’t made the mark.
One thing is certain: Parker will never forget his first cap, which was a long time coming at the age of 25.
Parker pushed up the average age of the U.S. team in that game. It’s Starting XI for that encounter was 25 years, 73 days.
He came on for Cameron Carter-Vickers in the 61st minute, only four minutes after Graham Burke’s goal equalized the match at 1-1.
You didn’t have to be a genius to know what Parker’s emotional state was.
“I was really happy,” he told reporters after the match. “It was a little bit nerve wracking, but when they called my name and they told me I was going in, I was really excited. Obviously, I just wanted to do whatever I could to make the team better.”
But once the 6-2, 195-lb. Parker hit the field, whatever butterflies or nerves he might have had went to the wayside quickly.
“I kept looking over, waiting for them to wave me over,” he said. “When they finally did, it was a moment I was waiting for a long time. It’s the highest honor and obviously, it was just a really happy moment.”
Of course, Parker wasn’t happy after Alan Judge scored off a Matt Miazga mistake in the 90th minute to give the hosts a victory.
Now, Parker and his teammates must take whatever lessons learned in the Irish encounter and move forward to play France, which will host the Americans in their send-off game prior to traveling to Russia.
Given this squad’s average age, the learning curve is not only great for Parker, but for his teammates as well.
“We’re a young team that’s just getting really to know each other very well,” he said. “So, I think just continuing to get to know each other obviously. The positives, we had chances to take to put the game away. I think we had chances to win that game and unfortunately, it didn’t fall into our hands, but we look forward.”