I know, you're sitting there reading the headline, and scoffing at the thought of the villainous Parkes returning to the US to play, let alone putting on the Black & Blue of the Switchbacks, but hear me out on this. The leap it would take to make this work out is not quite as big as one might think.
Most people might not recognize the name Romeo Parkes, but will undoubtably remember the incident that earned him near universal condemnation in the footballing world. On May 8th, Parkes, playing for USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds against the New York Red Bulls 2 earned a red card near the end of the game. Before he exited the field, he landed a flying kick to the back of New York's Karl Ouimette who was walking off the pitch following a sending off. It was a brutal assault that was widely publicized, which led to Pittsburgh voiding his contract, the USL banning him for the year, and FIFA suspending him for 6 months. That suspension expired on October 23rd, and Parkes returned to his previous team, the Salvadoran club Isidro Metapán.
Should Parkes decide to return to the American soccer scene, he would have a difficult time overcoming the incident. He would need to find a team willing to look past that game. The Switchbacks might just be that team.
The Switchbacks offseason needs include the need for a dominant striker. In his 6 appearances with Pittsburgh, he notched 5 goals, and establishing himself as a threat before the NYRB2 game. He is a capped member of the Jamaican National team, and was selected to appear for the Raggae Boys in last summers Copa America. He is undoubtedly a young talent, with a great deal of potential.
The Switchbacks could also provide a respite from potential distractions, and be a fertile ground for Parkes to re-establish himself. Colorado Springs is one of the smallest markets in the USL, with minimal local media coverage. While his signing would be widely covered in the soccer world at first, it would eventually die down as the season wore on.
The Switchbacks could also offer Parkes some needed mentorship to get his pro career back on track. Mentorship and giving back is a mantra of Captain Luke Vercollone, who along with teammate Jordan Burt and Colorado Springs native and former Rapids player James Riley, formed Pro Performance, a mentorship program for soccer players. Also offering some familiarity for Parkes would be the presence of fellow countryman, Assistant Coach Wolde Harris. The potential for a nurturing environment is there, and just might be what Parkes needs.
For the Switchbacks, Parkes could potentially be a steal. The team is looking to build for 2017 on a tight budget, and with the baggage Parkes brings, could land him at bargain price. Aside from the potential immediate negative reaction his signing would bring from the national soccer press, the risk is fairly minimal. The fanbase, while passionate, is still relatively small, and any lasting backlash is unlikely, especially if he finds success early. Egregious on field behavior is often overlooked when you can get results (Just ask Luis Saurez)
Americans love a good redemption story. And if played right, an apologetic and contrite Romeo Parkes could be a success story in Colorado Springs.