Romeo Parkes joins New Mexico United after an impressive 2019 debut with Ireland’s Sligo Rovers FC.
By Chris Walker | Image: NM United
Earlier this week, New Mexico United announced its first three scheduled matches against Austin Bold, FC Tulsa, and El Paso Locomotive FC.
United have now announced that they have signed Jamaican international Romeo Parkes to their 2020 roster on loan from the Sligo Rovers. Parkes spent last season with the Rovers, an Irish football club in the League Of Ireland Premier Division. Parkes was the leading goal scorer for the club with 11 goals and made 33 starts from 35 appearances. He was the fourth-ranked scorer overall in the Premier Division.
Originally hailing from Port Maria, Jamaica, Parkes appeared on the U23 team for his home country in 2011, and continued on with the Reggae Boyz from 2012-2015, appearing during Copa America in 2015. Parkes has also played for several professional Jamaican teams, including Portmore United, Boys’ Town, and Tivoli Gardens, among others.
Parkes is listed as a striker but has also played stints at winger in his career. He is dangerous for the opponent because he can give off a fatigued impression, while he is really putting off because he is match fit to play a full 90 minutes. Prior to playing for the Rovers, Parkes played for USL Championship’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds through the 2016-2018 seasons. During the 2018 season, he scored 5 goals and made 17 starts from 26 appearances. He was playing 90 minutes then as well. The transition from Pittsburgh to Ireland didn’t impact his minutes.
There will be some period adjustment needed for the altitude of New Mexico, but from reviewing his player profile he seems to acclimate quickly to new conditions.
When Parkes initially signed with the Rovers, Manager Liam Buckley had this to say about him in a press release: “He is technically very good and I have to say I’m quite excited about him.
“He has over a decade in the game which is an important and international experience.
“He likes to take players on and make things happen with a goal in him.”
Parkes will be a good addition up top for United as they have been trying to find a solid attacking player. During the offseason, there has been no official word from the club to date on whether Kevaughn Frater is returning for the 2020 season.
The signing is a bit of good fortune for United Technical Director & Head Coach Troy Lesesne.
“Romeo will add a different dimension to our club given his experience in the USL coupled with a successful 2019 season abroad with the Sligo Rovers,” said Head Coach Troy Lesesne. “He has pace, creativity on the dribble and can score goals in a variety of ways. I am looking forward to the impact he will bring to our team in 2020.”
Parkes was signed to Sligo Rovers for the 2020 season and then it was first revealed on January 3rd that he would be leaving the team for personal reasons. News of his departure came on the day that the first-team squad began pre-season training for the 2020 campaign. This, of course, came as a shocker because Buckley and the Rovers would now have to replace their standout player in a quick turnaround.
Buckley said in an interview with Ireland’s OceanFM Sport Podcast: “This decision relates to an important aspect of Romeo’s life, his long-term future, and while he is under contract, we have to look at it from a human level.
“He was looking forward to building on his fine first season and we’ve been in contact throughout the off-season in relation to this matter. We had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. Unfortunately, it has.
“We hope to see him back in Sligo one day and we wish him well. Now our focus turns to a replacement.”
At that time, not much else was known until later that day when the audio clip from the interview surfaced online through OceanFM’s SoundCloud account that was linked from their Twitter account. Buckley explained the matter in more detail: “(Romeo) had issues with his United States work permit where he was not able to get clearance,” Buckley said. “We extended his contract and optioned him for the following year,” Buckley added.
Parkes expressed a deep feeling of gratitude to the club, Buckley, the fans, and his team that was released in the initial OceanFM article.
Parkes said: “I’d like to thank the manager and the club for facilitating this. I am sad not to be returning to Sligo in 2020 because I really enjoyed my year.
“I want to give my appreciation to the fans, they were very supportive all year and I’m sorry I won’t be back next season. I have obligations to fulfill where I am.
“I want to wish all the guys good luck in the 2020 season, I’ll be supporting Sligo and hope one day to wear the jersey again.”
Through a series of scouting videos posted on YouTube for Parkes, you can capture that he is an exciting player to watch. From his own physical efforts that showcase his speed and strength to his teamwork ethic, which showcase his ability to create and finish chances, Parkes brings a new level of play to New Mexico United. When he scores, he just might express himself by his signature backflip.
“I am deeply honoured and enthusiastic about joining this team,” said Romeo Parkes. “I am looking forward to a great season and meeting my new soccer family!”