Tim Parker aims for bigger Whitecaps role, return to USMNT

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The 23-year-old is eager to take on a leadership role at his club in 2017, with an eye on joining Bruce Arena's U.S. side.

Going into his third MLS season, Tim Parker can no longer be considered a neophyte.

Vancouver motivated by rivals' success

The Vancouver Whitecaps defender burst onto the scene in 2015, when he played 17 MLS matches as a rookie. The following year Parker became one of the first names on coach Carl Robinson's team sheet, as the 23-year-old started 28 of his 29 league appearances for the Canadian side.

Parker is now preparing for the 2017 campaign as a presumed starter alongside Kendall Waston in the center of Vancouver defense, and he is looking forward to taking on more of a leadership role within his club.

"I definitely would love to do that and I think that's something that's important to me and important to my growth as a player as well," Parker told Goal when asked about assuming more responsibilities on and off the field. "In terms of my position and in terms of my character, that's something that I want to install in my game and install in myself, because I think that's something that I'll continue to push for this year."

Parker said that while he knows Robinson and the rest of the Whitecaps coaching staff are expecting him to step up to more of a leadership role this season, he feels that the biggest motivator for taking on such a responsibility is himself.

"I think it comes from within," Parker said. "It's something that I wanted to do by myself without being asked about it."

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In terms of personal growth, the defender hopes that his continued drive to improve himself will help him return to the U.S. national team. Parker, who has international experience at the youth level, attended two U.S. camps under Jurgen Klinsmann last year.

And while Parker didn't get off the bench in winter friendlies against Canada and Iceland and an October match versus New Zealand, he had enough of a taste that he lists a call-up from current U.S. boss Bruce Arena among his personal goals for 2017.

"I want to stay healthy, play a majority of the games [for the Whitecaps] and hopefully continue to find myself in the mix for the national team," Parker said. "I hope that I have a good enough year in order to put myself in an opportunity there, and if that opportunity comes then I'll hopefully take advantage of it."

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