Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Not long after Brad Evans suffered a calf injury, Michael Parkhurst received a text message.
The words in that message: “We’re probably going to bring you in.”
Parkhurst was indeed brought in by U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann a few days later, summoned to replace the injured Evans on a 23-man roster for a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. The call-up has Parkhurst in serious contention to start at right back in Friday’s road game at Estadio Nacional, with Klinsmann’s other options being Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco.
The 29-year-old Parkhurst showed well at that spot during the Americans’ successful run in the Gold Cup in July, providing sturdy defending and the occasional offensive punch. But questions remain about Parkhurst’s fitness and match sharpness due to his lack of playing time at FC Augsburg, questions Parkhurst faced before the U.S.’s training session in San Jose on Wednesday morning.
“I feel good. I got a lot of games in the summer and that wasn’t too long ago and then I was part of the trip (for the Bosnia & Herzegovina friendly in August), so fitness-wise, I feel good,” said Parkhurst. “Of course, I wish I would’ve gotten more games the past few weeks but I still feel sharp, so I think I’ll be ready if Jurgen calls my number.”
Parkhurst also revealed that he came close to landing a move during the recent summer transfer window, which closed this past Monday. A couple of teams in Germany and one in Denmark expressed interest in the veteran defender, but ultimately nothing materialized.
“It was close,” said Parkhurst. “A couple of different things came up, but in the end unfortunately it didn’t work out. There were a couple things that I wish had happened that was close that didn’t happen and a couple of things that were available that I didn’t think was the right situation.
“In the end, I’ll stay put and if things change, I’ll move in January.”
It would seem like a gamble to start Parkhurst against crafty and skillful strikers like Alvaro Saborio and Bryan Ruiz on Friday, but it is a scenario that could realistically play out.
Parkhurst gets forward, a trait Klinsmann values in his fullbacks, to greater effect than both Cameron and Orozco. Combine that fact with Parkhurst’s strong performances in the Gold Cup and Klinsmann might be tempted to hand Parkhurst a start on Friday night, regardless of his lack of playing time at the club level.
“We know Costa Rica is right behind us, two points behind, and we want to keep that space in between us and get closer to the World Cup in Brazil,” said Parkhurst. “We know that every point is valuable, we know we’re in a good position right now but we don’t want to throw that away by not picking up points.”