Atlanta United needed an experienced MLS defender, and now they have one. The club have acquired Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew SC in exchange for General Allocation Money.
Parkhurst, 32, began his professional career with the New England Revolution. During his four seasons with the Revs, he won MLS Rookie of the Year in 2005, Defender of the Year in 2007 and the Fair Play Award in both 2007 and 2008. Parkhurst totaled 115 appearances with the club.
“Michael is a fantastic addition for us, give his veteran leadership and MLS experience. He’s proven to be an effective captain and is an ideal role model for some of the younger players on our club,” Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “Also, he’s a very intelligent defender and good on the ball, which fits in nicely with our style of play.”
After his contract with New England expired in 2008, he signed on with Danish side Nordsjaelland as a free agent. This was an interesting time for Parkhurst as he was inserted into a variety of new positions, including right full back and even central midfielder. However, the natural defender was solid regardless of where Nordsjaelland played him, helping the club to their first Danish Cup wins in 2010 and 2011 and their first Danish Superliga title in 2012. Parkhurst was capped 106 times in four seasons during his time in Denmark.
He joined Bundesliga side Augsburg the following season, but struggled for playing time, making only two appearances in his one season with the German squad.
In 2014, Parkhurst’s MLS rights were traded by New England to Columbus in exchange for the Crew’s first-round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft and allocation money. He made 100 appearances in three seasons.
Parkhurst also holds a good amount of international experience, with 25 caps for the USMNT. He earned his first appearance in the 2007 Gold Cup against Trinidad & Tobago, with his most recent call-up coming in 2014 when he was included in Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man preliminary roster for the latest World Cup.
Parkhurst is a possible candidate to be Atlanta United’s first captain. His wealth of MLS experience is key for an inaugural club, especially in a back line that will look to hold steady while the attackers do their thing. Parkhurst is known for being a good passer from the back, which is great in a Martino system.
Hooray for the club’s first defender! Welcome to Atlanta, Michael.