When Isaiah Parente signed his Homegrown contract in January, he was considered a promising option for the Club’s long-term future. But since then, he’s been thrust into the spotlight and has emerged as a dependable member of The Crew’s present.
On Wednesday night, Parente played the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss at Toronto FC and delivered a respectable performance in his first complete league match.
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The 21-year-old midfielder completed 58 of his attempted 62 passes for a 93.5-percent passing accuracy. When passing into the opponent’s half, his passing percentage rose to 95.2 percent.
While the loss to Toronto was a disappointing result for The Crew, who allowed both goals from set pieces, the match also reiterated the team’s noted squad depth and dependable youth.
Entering April, Parente had never played a competitive minute at the professional level. On April 8, he made his pro debut in the waning minutes of The Crew’s 4-0 win at Real Estelí in the Concacaf Champions League. Next came his first start in the return home leg – a 1-0 victory.
Fast forward a month and the central midfielder has started both road league matches and has been a reliable option anchoring the midfielder in Columbus’ 4-2-3-1 formation.
Notably, Parente is the youngest midfielder in the Eastern Conference averaging at least 50 passes completed per match (he’s completing 54.83 completed passes per match). His 92-percent passing accuracy is also one of the best percentages for midfielders and ranks similarly to Darlington Nagbe’s metronomic 97 percent.
But it’s not just Parente's passing numbers that seem impressive, though. Against Toronto, Parente had a team-high four tackles, in addition to an interception and a clearance.
While he’s only played five competitive matches weeks into his rookie campaign, the midfielder has been one of the emerging talents of the young season.
He’s also seizing his opportunities.
The 21-year-old probably sat fifth on the club’s depth chart when the 2021 began. That’s no disrespect – just a reminder of the depth Columbus possesses, particularly in the midfield.
But when Sebastian Berhalter was loaned to Austin FC, and Aidan Morris suffered a season-ending ACL injury in April, Parente was the player called up to step into a new role. That role has only increased as Nagbe, Artur and Perry Kitchen have missed time due to rest or injury.
Both Artur and Kitchen were not included in the 17-man matchday squad against Toronto, allowing Parente to play the full 90 minutes alongside Nagbe.
Responsibilities could change once head coach Caleb Porter has a healthy midfield corps, but a decreased role from Parente won’t be a demotion as much as a reminder that he can fill in and produce a reliable performance. In fact, just last month, Porter said he liked “the idea of Isaiah maybe now being in that rotation.”
So, as The Crew prepares for its sixth match in a 19-day span, Parente, who was initially expected to be part of the long-term plans, is becoming a dependable player in the present.