FSV Mainz 05 striker Shawn Parker (#31), earning his first senior squad start Tuesday at Eintracht Frankfurt’s Commerzbank Arena, sparkled in his starting XI senior squad debut, assisting teammate Andreas Ivanschitz on his opening goal and scoring his own 42nd minute goal. Parker’s strike proved to be the game-winner as his Mainz squad scored a 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. The Mainz victory was only the club’s second in eight away league matches this season, and lifted their season record to 6-2-6, good for seventh place in the table prior to the remaining five MatchDay 14 fixtures to be played Wednesday.
Parker, who turned 19 years old in March, had already made one brief Bundesliga appearance, earning a 89th minute cameo for Thomas Tuchel’s club October 27 in their 3-1 win over Hoffenheim. Although he’s been named to the Mainz bench in the following weeks, he had received no more playing time until Tuchel handed him a spot in the starting XI for the big matchup with Eintracht Frankfurt, a club that Mainz trailed by seven points heading into the match.
Parker’s assist came in the 18th minute, as he took the ball a few yards outside the Frankfurt box, dribbled past Carlos Zambrano and squared a pass to the oncoming Ivanschitz, who delivered to give Mainz an early lead. Parker’s first Bundesliga goal arrived when he latched onto a through ball from Eugen Polanski in stride, created some space around Frankfurt’s 17 year-old defender Marc-Oliver Kempf (who was making his Bundesliga debut)and fired low to beat Kevin Trapp to his left. Before being subbed out in the 68th minute, Parker took four shots, drew one foul and committed another while completing 7 of 9 passes with eight tackles and 21 total touches, covering 8.78 km.while making 58 intensive runs.
Born in Wiesbaden in southwest Germany to an American father and German mother, the 5’10” striker may be unknown to many Bundesliga fans, but is well-known to followers of the German national youth teams. He began his youth club career with SV Wehen Wiesbaden and joined the Mainz youth system in January, 2005.. Parker scored eight goals in 36 appearances for the Mainz reserve squad since 2011, including four this year in nine matches. He has also represented Germany at every youth level from the U-16 to U-20 side as part of a talented group of German youngsters born in 1993 that includes Schalke’s Julian Draxler and highly regarded prospects Leonardo Bittencourt of Dortmund and Stuttgart’s Antonio Rüdiger. In 43 matches for German national youth squads, Parker has scored 24 goals.
In the past Parker has been considered by some the best prospect in his age group, as he has demonstrated quickness, ability with both feet and great comfort on the ball combined with the ability to also play out wide. As often happens with young players who create high expectations, there has been some question about his attitude and mentality too.
Parker’s excellent Mainz debut Tuesday is especially intriguing for American fans, as the teenager holds a U.S. passport. Indications exist that he has already been contacted by USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann, although Parker, unlike some of the other German-Americans who have joined the American national team, has a more established connection with the German national youth system. (Current German-American U.S. internationals Timothy Chandler and Terrence Boyd were never called up to a German national youth squad, while Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones and Daniel Williams did play for German national youth sides).
Whatever the future holds for young Mr. Parker, though, Tuesday was a day he will remember as we Bundesliga fans savor the rise of another outstanding young talent in German football.
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