World Cup hopes drive Michael Parkhurst’s MLS return

January 13th, 2014

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LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Life on the periphery at FC Augsburg left Michael Parkhurst little choice. He needed to take action in the January transfer window to bolster his hopes of earning a place in Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the World Cup this summer.

Monday, Parkhurst opted to cut short his Bundesliga stint and return to MLS in search of regular playing time. His desire to return to the States played a critical role in Columbus’ decision to acquire his rights from New England on Monday morning.

Crew coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter shipped the number four overall pick in Thursday’s SuperDraft and an undisclosed amount of allocation money to the Revolution in exchange for the rights to the returning U.S. international. Parkhurst has agreed to terms with MLS and will join the Crew pending the receipt of his international transfer certificate.

Berhalter moved quickly to address the vacancy created by Chad Marshall’s departure to Seattle last month. Parkhurst, 29, fits more into the revised Crew ethos: he builds well out of the back given his shift to the right side during his European tenure and supplies a calm, steady intelligence with his diligent work in central defense.

Parkhurst never broke through with Augsburg, but he will expect to play every match for the Crew heading into this season given his compensation (in the ballpark of the maximum salary for a non-Designated Player) and the package required to obtain him. It is a much needed shift for Parkhurst with the US right back berth still available over the next few months. A return to form and match fitness could provide Parkhurst with the platform required to press his claims for inclusion, particularly if Berhalter employs his services at right back from time to time.

Klinsmann relied upon Parkhurst at right back during last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph. While Parkhurst isn’t a prototypical fullback, his savvy displays and his versatility could make him a valuable component for Klinsmann if he can work his way into what is a crowded mix.

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Parkhurst’s primary value to the Revolution came in the bounty for his rights. New England retained those rights after Parkhurst signed for FC Nordsjælland on a free transfer after the 2008 campaign. His return at this juncture was a bonus for the Revs as they have reigning MLS Defender of the Year José Gonçalves in the fold on a permanent contract.

The salary budget simply isn’t large enough to accommodate two starting central defenders on considerable wages. By flipping Parkhurst’s rights to the Crew, the Revolution moved into position to draft a top prospect with the first of their three first-round selections and strengthened their financial position in their search for foreign-based reinforcements in the middle of the field or up front.

If the search yields a potential contributor in a more pressing area, then the Revs can watch Parkhurst take the field at Crew Stadium with the knowledge that his departure paved the way for a stronger side on the whole. Until that stage arrives, they will have to take solace in the fact that their former player is now in a better position to further his international ambitions over the next few months.

Images from Getty Images

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