D.C. United defender Jeff Parke sidelined by migraine headaches

(D.C. United)
(D.C. United)

Jeff Parke‘s foot is just fine. His head is not.

The D.C. United defender recovered from a long-term foot injury a few weeks ago, the club said Monday, and is now sidelined indefinitely with migraine headaches.

United officials are not sure if the migraines were caused by a blow to the head this season, stem from a concussion in October 2011 when he played for Seattle or are unrelated to soccer.

The club said it followed standard MLS concussion protocol and has sent him to various specialists. At one point, doctors thought he might have an inner-ear tear, but that was ruled out. Parke was scheduled to see a migraine specialist in Philadelphia on Monday.

Parke, in his first year with United and 10th in MLS, started the first 13 matches before suffering a left foot injury.

His absence has been softened by the performance of rookie Steve Birnbaum, who has partnered with captain Bobby Boswell in central defense. With Parke’s return unclear, United is in the market to improve depth at center back. Nana Attakora and Conor Shanosky are the other candidates, but neither has appeared in a league match this season.

MLS’s international transfer window closes Aug. 6 and team rosters freeze Sept. 15. United has two senior roster spaces available and salary cap space from Spanish left back Cristian Fernandez‘s release last month.

Unrelated to the Parke news, Lee Ki Je, a 23-year-old South Korean left back from Japanese club Shimizu S-Pulse, began a trial Monday morning.

Officials have not set a timetable on his stay, in part because of United’s busy schedule this week: a home match Wednesday against Toronto FC, recovery Thursday, travel to Houston on Saturday, a match against the Dynamo on Sunday night and travel next Monday.

If United wants him, Lee would probably be available on a free transfer. Lee, who also plays left wing, appeared regularly for Shimizu in 2012 and ’13 but fell out of favor with Iranian-American coach Afshin Ghotbi and has entered one of 17 J-League matches this season (20 minutes). Coincidentally, Shimizu is the club that purchased center back Dejan Jakovic from United over the winter.

United is seeking depth at left back after releasing Fernandez. Chris Korb has stepped into the starting lineup and performed well. Another recent trialist, Jamaica’s Kemar Lawrence, 21, was not offered a contract after two weeks of workouts.

No other international trials are scheduled, but the club is looking at signing and trade options.

“We’re hoping” to bolster the roster soon, Coach Ben Olsen said. “Sometimes these things take until the last minute. We’re looking inside the league and outside the league.”

[UPDATE] *Andrew Dykstra, United’s second-choice goalkeeper, will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, suffered during the 3-0 loss to English club Fulham on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. He will undergo surgery Wednesday. After beating out Joe Willis in preseason for the back-up job, the Woodbridge native and Virginia Commonwealth graduate started four league matches and recorded two shutouts. Willis has been recalled from the third-division Richmond Kickers.

*Forward Fabian Espindola, United’s leading scorer who has been sidelined since mid-June with a knee injury, might be in uniform at some point this week. Olsen said Espindola is “questionable” for both the Wednesday and Sunday matches.

*Midfielder Chris Pontius, who has yet to play this season, was jogging Monday in his continued recovery from hamstring surgery in April. Late August is the front end of the original timetable (four to six months). Realistically, the club hopes he is available this fall for the stretch run and playoffs.

“He is still a ways away,” Olsen cautioned. “We would love to have him back. It would be a nice summer signing — or sighting. It’s frustrating. I feel for Chris. I’ve been there [with a long-term ankle injury]. It’s not a lot of fun.”

*Other injuries from the Fulham match: Midfielder Kyle Porter turned an ankle and midfielder Alex Caskey hurt a knee.

*The public is welcome to attend a joint training session with United and Inter Milan players Thursday at RFK Stadium, starting at 5 p.m. Admission is free. Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir is the primary investor in both clubs. Inter will play Manchester United on Tuesday night at FedEx Field and has been using Catholic University as a training base during its preseason tour (the other matches are in California and Philadelphia).

*Olsen and his wife Megan welcomed their third child two weeks ago, a second son named Frankie Banjo Olsen. Banjo? When Ben was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, his father nicknamed him “Banjo” and “Benjo.”

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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