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Michael Parkhurst’s Importance to Atlanta United

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Atlanta’s first ever club captain leads by example.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being the first captain in Atlanta United’s history, the impact and importance of Michael Parkhurst have been somewhat overlooked this season.

The 33-year old has been reliable and sturdy at the back for Atlanta, earning himself a spot in the 2017 MLS All Star Game, but the praise and attention still doesn’t seem to be there. The former USA international continues to come up big at the back for Atlanta, yet there seems to be a lack of league-wide praise (despite his All-Star game inclusion).

Atlanta’s defensive record has had it’s ups and downs this season, but the developing partnership of Parkhurst and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez has helped Atlanta boast the fifth best defensive record in the Eastern Conference. On top of that, Atlanta have kept three clean sheets in their last four MLS games.

The recent success of Atlanta’s defense can partially be attributed to the leadership and experience that Parkhurst brings to the table, marshaling the back line and constantly staying vocal. The talent as always been there for Parkhurst and it continues to show with Atlanta United. The best example of this came on Friday night against Orlando City, Parkhurst’s best performance of the season.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC
Michael Parkhurst (#3) was superb against Orlando City on Friday night.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta’s captain was excellent during the entire 90 minutes, taking up good positions throughout and thwarting Orlando City’s attacks. It was a complete performance from the 33-year old, showing exactly why he deserved his spot on the MLS All-Star team. As Atlanta continue to climb the Eastern Conference standings, their defense must continue to impress as it has done recently and Parkhurst will need to continue this rich vein of form he’s in.

Parkhurst’s job as captain of an expansion side isn’t easy, but he sure makes it look it with his composed play and excellent leadership skills. While the rest of the league raves about Atlanta’s attack, don’t forget the former MLS Rookie of the Year leading from the back.