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Final Exams: Michael Parkhurst

He wore the armband well.

MLS: Eastern Conference Knockout Round-Columbus Crew at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Parkhurst

Games: 33 appearances (33 starts, 2906 minutes)

Goals: 0 (2 own goals)

Assists: 0

Tackles: 1.3 per game

Interceptions: 1.4 per game

Clearances: 4.2 per game

Parkhurst was acquired by Atlanta United in December 2016 from the Columbus Crew, making the Five Stripes his third MLS club team and fifth overall (New England Revolution, Nordsjaelland and Augsburg). He was given the honor of being the first captain in team history and went on to lead the squad in a more than capable fashion, earning an All-Star nod along the way.

What went right this season?

Parky is a highly technical player, but is not flashy, which makes him something of a standout on a team that thrives on high energy play. Rather, he is a reliable center back who provides the option for players around him to play more creatively. This was most evident in the freedom his center back partner Leandro Gonzalez Pirez had to move forward, which Parkhurst himself almost never did. He also wore the armband very effectively, proving himself a good choice as captain, providing a lot of stability in a team that started the year barely knowing each other. Finally, even at 33 he was a very durable player, missing only 2 games all season. In fact, he played more minutes than other Atlanta United player, and was 16th overall in the league (12th for field positions).

What does he need to improve on?

For a start, let’s dispense with the own goals. Parkhurst now has a grand total of 6 goals in 13 professional seasons, but he likely wishes he didn’t. That aside, at 33 he’s something of an old dog and there may not be many new tricks he can learn at this stage. However, he is not always the most aggressive of challengers and there are improvements he can make in that area.

What is his role for next season?

Parkhurst will likely remain the team captain and will continue to be tasked with being the glue that holds the team together. That will become all the more important if, as seems possible, Jeff Larentowicz does not return. I would however expect his minutes to reduce as the club continues to make some adjustments to its back line.

Overall Player Grade: B