Americans Abroad Spotlight: After UCL experience, Parkhurst poised for major winter move

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

Michael Parkhurst knew long ago that this winter would be the most important of his career, what with his contract ending and a free transfer looming. With a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League, in a loaded group, Parkhurst knew that if he played well he would have a great opportunity to impress scouts and improve his options.

Parkhurst made the most of his opportunities, playing well in Champions League match-ups against Juventus and Chelsea for FC Nordsjaelland, and while the Danish champions were eliminated in the group stage, Parkhurst did enough to draw interest from clubs in Germany, Spain, Italy and England.

“It definitely helps you as a player because you learn how good you are right off the bat,” Parkhurst said. “You have to be at the top level in order to play against those guys and I feel, overall, I helped my stock more than hurt it.

“I thought I had a couple of really good performances, especially the Chelsea home game,” Parkhurst said. “I feel like that was the first time that we went up against the best in the world and you measure yourself against them and I feel that most of the game, and in most of the minutes, I was competing right alongside of them.

“I feel like I can compete with them. I feel I can take the next step and compete on the next level.”

Parkhurst’s performances didn’t go unnoticed. Along with earning UEFA Champions League Team of the Week honors for his showing in Nordsjaelland’s 1-1 draw vs. Juventus, Parkhurst caught the eye of scouts who were both impressed by his play and intrigued by his impending free agency.

“We have an offer on the table from Germany, but we want to take our time a little bit and make sure we get the best scenario for myself in terms of taking care of my family financially, being in a decent city, having a good chance to play,” Parkhurst said. “We don’t want to jump at the first thing, but at the same time we don’t want to wait too long and lose out on something.”

The 28-year-old U.S. national team defender has spent four years with Nordsjaelland, but admits he is ready for a bigger challenge in a stronger league, and his success against teams like Chelsea and Juventus has only served to boost his confidence and belief that he can play in a stronger league.

“You always have that self confidence that you can do it, but it’s nice get that experience of facing the best,” Parkhurst said. “You just hope that someone notices and someone appreciates what I have to give and hopefully fit into their plans.”

The second-half of 2012 has been a memorable time for Parkhurst, who not only enjoyed success in UEFA Champions League, he also earned a start for the U.S. Men’s National Team in its most important game of the year, a Hexagonal-clinching victory against Guatemala in October. Despite playing out of position at left back, Parkhurst held his own in the U.S. victory.

Parkhurst considers his quest for a place on the U.S. World Cup team in 2014 as a top priority, and a reason why he is eager to test himself in stronger leagues even though a return to MLS at some point in his career is likely.

“That’s why I’m over here in Europe,  to get the experience to help me with the national team,” Parkhurst said. “Living in the U.S. is easier, and it would be easier for my family to go back to the states and finish my career, but being in Europe gives me a better opportunity with the national team.

“I want to be a part of the national team in qualifying next year, I want to help the team qualify and I want to be a part of the team that goes to Brazil,” Parkhurst said. “I know the competition is good for places, and I know there are young guys coming up. You have guys like Timmy Chandler and Eric Lichaj. I just want to make sure my name is still in there and that I’m an option going forward.”

After the year he has had, and particularly the past few months, Parkhurst has pushed his name into the heart of the national team conversation at fullback, and he stands a very good chance of playing a key role when World Cup qualifying begins in February.

With a free transfer looming, Parkhurst is poised to make the biggest move of his pro career, and if he succeeds in securing a move to a top league like the German Bundesliga, Parkhurst could take a major step toward making 2013 an even better year.

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40 Responses to Americans Abroad Spotlight: After UCL experience, Parkhurst poised for major winter move

  1. Tyler K. says:

    I respect what Parkhurst is doing over in Europe. He made the most of his opportunity and he’s earned the right to ply his trade in one of the world’s top leagues.

    • danny says:

      Congrats to Parkhust! I hope he gets a nice payday. I really appreciated it his play, as he seems to make the most of what he’s got. A well rounded, smart player.

  2. Beto says:

    Good for parky he has made the most of the few oppurtunities he had. I can see him doing well in germany or a yoyo level English team.

    I also hope goodson can move out of bronby to a similar level club

    • PD says:

      If both players could get in a league like Ligue 1 that might actually be preferable to a yo-yo situation in the EPL. Bocanegra spent a few good seasons there and the competition is very high as is the chance for regular playing time very very high level players.

      either way I wish Parkhurst the best. always been impressed by his savvy.

      • bottlcaps says:

        I think Parkhurst is in an uphill situation. He will be competing with Geoff Cameron, who is getting regular starting time in the EPL, Oguchi Onyewu, who has regained fitness and form and is getting regular playing time in La Liga, and Omar Gonzales who was the MLS CUP MVP, the first defender ever to do so. If Parkhurst has hope of making the team, it will come as a utility defender who can play center abck as well as a corner back. Going to a new bigger team is always dicey. There is always a period of adjustment and the whims of the coach. You cannot be assured of playing time like your last small club.

  3. David St. Hubbins says:

    i just hope he doesn’t sign for a big money team like Bayern to sit on the bench like Gooch did in his free transfer year when he went to milan… even if he never got injured he was still 4th on their depth chart

    • Sly says:

      Hannover or Leverkusen or Bremen a firm mid table team. Not involved with relegation an outside shot at Europe every year.

      Especially at his age, if he stays healthy he could be there for 6 years. Especially if he keeps raising his game. Bundesliga is difficult.

    • patrick says:

      i think his comments should put to rest any of your fears.

    • MLSsnob says:

      Bayern wouldn’t be an option. I’m thinking a team like Wolfsburg is a more likely destination.

      • Helium-3 says:

        Or even EPL teams that play attractive ball on the ground like Swansealona :-), Norwich, West Ham, etc..

    • Lion4U says:

      no way PArkhurst gets an offer above a relegation fodder team. Gooch was a star in Belgium and had WC experience and was 27 and is a Giant. And a free transfer

      • TomG says:

        You never know for sure, though. A manager could take a particular liking to him. He also might be viewed as a perfect bench player for a good team because of his versatility. Though he doesn’t have the speed of a prototypical wing back, he’s a perfect guy to bring in at the 70th minute at fullback to protect a lead.

        • ChrisB says:

          Exactly, I think his versatility is his biggest selling point. He’s demonstrated he can play either outside back, and in the center pretty effectively. I actually have been more impressed with him in the times I’ve seen him play centrally.

      • Josh D says:

        I agree he’s not dynamic enough for a top tier team. He lacks pace and technicality.

        What he does offer is commitment and stamina which can take a sideback a long ways. I think he’s a notch below Dolo at his prime and comparable to Spector.

        • Danglin Breast says:

          I will say, he might be much better than a Bornstein type player.

          • Nikolas says:

            it’s a huge insult to even bring up bornstein’s name. Parkhust is ages more consistent and far superior in marking/poitioning/poise, you name it.

    • Zak1FCK says:

      The German team looking at him is in the 2 Bundesliga.

    • Jake says:

      I don’t think Parkhurst is anywhere near good enough in reality or reputation to be in danger of something like that.

  4. Mike V. says:

    Parkhurst has quietly but surely raised his game in Denmark. It hasn’t been easy and he’s had some ups and downs due to constantly shifting from CB or RB early on. But once he moved permanently to RB it has been smooth sailing. He still does play CB on occassion when injury or suspension occurs, though. Parkhurst was one of the assist leaders in the Superliga and that alone might draw some interest. I would love to see him in Germany but I am a Bundesliga homer.

  5. DanO says:

    All this kid does in win. At Wake Forest. In New England. Now in Denmark. I know it’s a team sport and all and not all on him, but he clearly is the kind of player that makes his team better. Best of luck in this decision to him.

  6. THomas says:

    This Champions League group was set up perfectly for him. Nordslsgkjhdg;lkgh;sgd were never going to threaten anyone and always be on the defensive. So it showcased his ability there and the few chances he got to go forward, he did well.

  7. B1879 says:

    I always thought he looked like James Franco.

  8. Lion4U says:

    Eredivisie or BUndesliga. He makes a quarter million a year. He can double that with a move.

  9. 2tone says:

    Good player. I see him possibly unseating Castillo as Fabians Back-up at LB. He is a better defender than Castillo. And he played particularly good there against Guate. It will be hard for him to be a RB now that Chandler is back in the equation.

  10. MikeG says:

    I wish Parkhurst the best. I think Parkhurst will make a good story to read in January. I hope the Bundesliga is his ultimate destination. Parkhurst could be a No 1 or No 2 RB or LB in qualifying. After Chandler plays a qualifying match for the USA Chandler could free up Fabian Johnson to move up to an attacking midfielder or winger position. Chandler and Parkhurt moves Fabian Johnson out of the back four and into the midfield where Johnson can make better use of his offensive and tactical awareness/anticipation.

  11. Ryan says:

    Having watched a couple of his CL games, I was thoroughly impressed by his overall performances, but I was most impressed by his confidence and ability going forward — something we’ve seen little of when he’s worn a US jersey. Hopefully Juergen picks up on that and urges him to get forward more when he’s presented with his next opportunity in a U.S. jersey. I don’t think he’s a starter come Brazil 2014, but I definitely see him as quality depth.

    • GW says:

      It’s much easier to be confident defending and attacking for your club team where you are familiar with everyone and everyone is familiar with you as opposed to trying to do the same thing with some guys you only see a couple of times a year.

  12. Thebumswillalwayslose says:

    Good on him. Hope he gets a move that works out for him in terms of living situation, cash and PT. His versatility – being able to play right back and CB, should help him stay in the National team picture as long he continues to play at a high level over there.

  13. Hogatroge says:

    Hope he makes a successful upgrade.

    He put in some solid performances for the Nats in WCQ during a few matches where nobody else showed up.

  14. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Parkhurst is not the biggest guy but he is tough as nails and brings energy to backline… very underestimated player.

  15. Danglin Breast says:

    Fabain,Chandler,Lichaj, and even Castillo seem to be better options, but I’ll have to see how he does against teams like Honduras,Costa Rica, and Mexico even Panama to see if he can handle the pressure, not to mention the hardcore environment that come with playing away matches .

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Lichaj and Castillo are questionable for that list, and Chandler has yet to commit. I have my doubts on Parkhurst but he seems to be solid depth of nothing else.

    • David JS says:

      In this moment, I think Parkhurst is definitely ahead of Castillo or Lichaj in Jurgen’s mind, and for good reason. As of now, assuming no injuries, he’s behind Dolo at RB and Fab at LB so I see him getting called in for the opening games of the Hex even with counting on Chandler also being called.

  16. steveo says:

    great for him, for USMNT and MLS-the guy was a clear stand out in MLS and the more players translate their MLS success to other leagues the more respect and more opportunities our players will get abroad-the better USMNT will get…

    progress is slow but steady-I remember years when there would be none or one American in UCL getting to the group stages, now that number is growing…

  17. bryan says:

    excellent! i love having all these options at fullback!

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