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- DOB January 24, 1984
- Age 29
- Place of birth Providence, Rhode Island
- POSITION Defender
- HEIGHT 5'11"
- WEIGHT 155
- U.S. CAPS 22
- CLUB Augsburg
- Current ASN 100 Rank 30
- Previous ASN 100 Rank 26
- Youth Experience U-23
Sometimes nice guys finish first.
Take Michael Parkhurst, the quiet, unassuming defender who won the MLS Fair Play Award in 2007 and 2008 and was named MLS Humanitarian of the Year in 2006 and 2008. A regular starter during his four seasons with the New England Revolution, Parkhurst moved to Denmark in 2009 to play for FC Nordsjælland, a small club with modest ambitions. Helped considerably by Parkhurst’s steady play at the back, FC Nordsjælland surprised everyone in 2011-2012 by winning the Danish SuperLiga—qualifying for the 2012-2013 Champions League in the process.
Make no mistake—Parkhurst is more than just a good guy. He was named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2005 and MLS Defender of the Year in 2007, and U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann called on the defender six times in 2012 most recently on October 16 against Guatemala. The Rhode Island native currently has 15 total caps, dating back to June 2007 when he debuted against Trinidad and Tobago in the Gold Cup.
Though primarily a center back during his MLS days, Parkhurst now plays mostly at right back in Denmark. “Nordsjælland definitely see my top position as a right back,” Parkhurst told The New York Times. “At first I was apprehensive, because I’ve been playing center back my whole life, but I’ve grown into the role. I play the position pretty much as a winger. I’m having fun with it.”
This versatility is both a blessing and a curse, at least from a national team perspective. Parkhurst’s ability to play either spot will make him an attractive roster option for Klinsmann in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup. But getting stuck with the “tweener” label could relegate Parkhurst to backup duty. (Just ask Jonathan Spector.) And with right backs Steve Cherundolo and (probably) Timothy Chandler both ahead of him on the depth chart, the 28-year-old Parkhurst will need to push hard to see meaningful playing time as the 2014 World Cup draws closer.Parkhurst was tipped for big things following a winter move to FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga, but injuries prevented him from making any real impact for the German side, as he picked up just two appearances for his new club. Klinsmann’s choice to play the far less experienced Brad Evans at right back recently for the U.S. was another blow for Parkhurst. Despite the recent setbacks, Parkhurst will be looking to reestablish himself with the national team and should get plenty of playing time in the Gold Cup. He may see time at both right back and center back, and if he puts in strong, composed performances, the man who impressed in the Champions League group stages will be firmly back in Klinsmann’s good graces.
Noteworthy ReadsU.S. Defender Parkhurst, and His Championship Season (NYTimes.com)
The Future is Now (Boston Globe)