Parks reaches pinnacle of U.S. soccer

Former Redhawk Keaton Parks called up national team

Three years after he last suited up for the Redhawks, 2015 graduate Keaton Parks has reached the pinnacle of soccer in America by being called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team, and will make his debut Monday in Chester, PA as the team takes on Bolivia at Talen Energy Stadium.

provided by Keaton Parks
Playing in Portugal for the last years, Parks is currently with SL Benfica, historically one of the top professional club teams in Portugal.

“I’ve always dedicated a lot of time to soccer and to my dream of becoming a pro and I’ve stayed humble and everything is falling into place for me,” Keaton said via text. “It’s a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to play for the national team since I was a little kid and it’s just amazing that I’m a part of it now.”

As rumors of Parks call up turned to reality, his former coaches, friends, and family eagerly await his chance in the spotlight.

“I was pretty excited about it,” Redhawks head soccer coach Fred Kaiser said. “I had heard rumors last week that it was a possibility. And then I got a text from him letting me know that he had been named and the internet blew up with it, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Playing varsity soccer all four years (2011-2015) as a Redhawk, Parks has sprouted more than a foot since his freshman year in high school and now stands 6’4” and 165 lbs.

“He started for us as a freshman; a very small freshman,” Kaiser said. “I think 5’, 5’1”, but he’s always had exceptional footwork, like you can’t take the ball off of his foot and nobody could knock him off  then. As a sophomore, he shot up seven or eight inches, and I think he even had another growth spurt after high school. When I saw him over the summer, he looks like what you’d expect a professional soccer player to look like.”

provided by Keaton Parks
Forgoing the chance to play soccer at SMU, Parks headed to Europe shortly after graduating. Working his way up through the Portuguese professional ranks, Parks has seen action in several clubs for the SL Benfica’s top team which qualified for the Champions League.

Currently playing soccer for Dallas Baptist University as a freshman, sister Kaci Parks looks up to her brother.

“He’s always been really motivated and determined to follow his dream,” Kaci said. “I’ve been following him my whole life and I’ve always looked up to him as a role model. Part of the reason I play soccer is because my brothers play soccer so I just like how he works hard and I just try to work hard like he does.”

Kaiser along with assistant coach Adam Cecil are making the trip to Philadelphia to watch Parks play Monday and from there the national team will be traveling to Ireland and France for games on June 2 and June 9.

“I’m expecting it to be a difficult game of course and I’m just excited to play, whether that’s for 90 minutes or five minutes, I’m just excited to be here,” Keaton said. “I’m excited that they can come. Whenever Kaiser told me they were all coming, I just got excited and I’m super thankful that they’re going to make the trip out here.”