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Despite lack of club playing time, Parkhurst back in USMNT fold and ready to contribute

Michael Parkhurst

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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.”


  1. Has anybody thought that the reason Parkhurst is getting called in is because he was on the gold cup squad that beat costa rica not two months ago?

  2. While I get that their can be some debate over whether Lichaj should have been called vs. Parkhurst, the passion some folks are putting behind getting Lichaj in camp seems a bit exaggerated. It’s really a fringe decision about fringe players, nothing to get too crazy about, unless you sincerely believe that a guy currently playing in England’s second division would make the US team better overnight. Personally, I don’t see that roster spot decision as particularly controversial; he could have very well called in Spector (he may be injured though I haven’t followed him too much lately) or Lichaj for example instead of Parkhurst. You can really rationalize one over the other depending on your point of view, so all the discussions and outrage become ultimately unproductive. Now, when he dropped Landon back in the spring, I think that something way more interesting to discuss than this, because he’s one of our key players, but that’s just me.

    • The RB question is proving to be anything but “fringe”. For this current camp, we originally had no one who plays the position naturally. Now we’ve added a guy who plays it in theory but doesn’t actually play. I don’t understand how RB is anything but a critical point to address right now. I also don’t understand why Lichaj can’t get even an Alfredo Morales-style cameo in one of the many meaningless NT camps.

      • RB is evans and camerons spot. Parkhurst Lichaj and Spector can all arguably be number 3 in the pecking order. So yes the choice of Parkurst over lichaj or spector is a fringe decision, fundemantally. Again as much as you can make the case for Lichaj you can make a case for Spector when healthy or Parkhurst. Jk just believes lichaj isnt currently up to par and given recent results, he’a earned benifit of the doubt.

    • the ‘passion’ isn’t due to klinsmann not calling lichaj up for these quals. (for the record, i don’t think he should be called into this one.) it’s because he has *never* called lichaj into a camp, which is why his explanation that ‘now isn’t a good time to experiment’ is infuriating.

      • Yeah that is the issue. Spector is healthy and back to playing regular minutes. I think overlooking Lichaj’s abilities and age is an issue and it reflects a big contradiction in Klinsmans behavior. Again Castillo, Corona, and Bedoya were also “fringe” players until this summer. The US needs depth at rb. The people who can’t see that are placing way too much stock in this current run. Frankly Concacaf is not as strong as in years past. Mexico is very subpar. The reason the team has gone on this run however is due to better depth. Why shouldn’t all positions be improved.?

      • Yeah that is the issue. Spector is healthy and back to playing regular minutes. I think overlooking Lichaj’s abilities and age is an issue and it reflects a big contradiction in Klinsmans behavior. Again Castillo, Corona, and Bedoya were also “fringe” players until this summer. The US needs depth at rb. The people who can’t see that are placing way too much stock in this current run. Frankly Concacaf is not as strong as in years past. Mexico is very subpar. The reason the team has gone on this run however is due to better depth. Why shouldn’t all positions be improved?

  3. I think SBI and in particular Ives’s analysis of the USMNT’s defensive backs, LB/RB, Lichaj, Parkhurst, etc. is overlooking some key points. It is great to have Evans, Cameron, and Parkhurst all performing well there. The team needs depth and as history proved the team you line-up even four months prior to the start of a World Cup can look very different.

    That said Lichaj needs to be in camp. He plays regularly, has played solidly in the EPL, gets forward, and can play both RB/LB. Lichaj proved his worth in the 2011 Gold Cup, which was a much tougher competition than this year’s version. The US did well this year and it is great to watch the team come together under Klinsman. But there is a broader issue here between Klinsman and Lichaj that has not been reported. Klinsman logic that has not been the team and thus adding him at this juncture would create confusion is crap. That rationale should then apply to Brooks and Johansson. Obviously it hasn’t been applied because we need depth at all positions and those guys are young improving talents. Lichaj is 24, a year older than Alitdore. By contrast, Parkhurst is 29. This is a bad decision and going in to a World Cup it makes no sense. World Cup football is fat faster and played much wider than what goes on in MLS, Concacaf, or the Gold Cup. We will need backs with pace and flexibility. Brad Evans is a good player, but he does not offer that. He has no experience going against guys like Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott on a weekly basis and Lichaj has done that and acquitted himself well.

    The winning streak is great and the team is playing attractive football, which makes Lichaj’s exclusion all the more inexplicable. Chandler I understand. The guy doesn’t want to be involved. I think Klinsman is hurting the USMNT development by leaving Lichaj out. We need more RBs/LBs not less. The team has improved there, but it is not a deep position.

    • I’m all for good debate on systems and players, but Eric Lichaj did not acquit himself well in the EPL. He was horrid in the EPL. He was so bad that his team, which stayed up, let him go on free transfer. The team said to him, we rate you so poorly that we aren’t even going to bother shopping you around–your contract ends on an upcoming date, have a good life. No other team in the EPL–not even a newly promoted team–wanted him. He had to go down a division.

      Eric Lichaj had 32 appearances for Aston Villa between 2008 and 2013. For the record, that’s about 6 appearances a year and half came as substitutes for injury or late game time wasting.

      To claim he performed well discredits whatever other good points you could have made.

      • Your analysis is so off. In 2010/2011, he was loaned out for half the seasons to Leeds, which did want to buy him. Villa refused. He played in 23 matches last year. Compare that to Parkhurst. I watch Villa games and he is a good player. If you are comparing him to Parkhurst and Evans, he is equally has good. He is faster and can play both sides. That is a good enough argument for his inclusion. Plus he is just 24. You are counting seasons when he was 19. That is same garbage analysis that SBI trolls dogged Altidore with. Our players do well in an environments that give them a chance to develop. Plus the gap between mid-level EPL teams and upper-echelon Championship league teams is minimal. By your logic, a guy like Lukaku has been a complete failure because Chelsea loan’s him out every year and turns to Torres. Ever think that Chelsea might be making a stupid decision. Lukaku’s upside is much higher than Torres’s. The same is true for Lichaj versus Parkhurst. Any debating that point is complete nonsense. For that matter, anyone want to recall just how bad Edgar Castillo or Fiscal played when Klinsman first took over. Those two were walking disasters, but they have both improved a lot and contribute. Another example of how patience and brining different guys in helps with the team’s depth.

      • Dawwilly,

        Nice post but you seem to think the USMNT is missing out on Lichaj while I think Lichaj is the one missing out on the USMNT.

        Call ups should be very hard to obtain. They should be for players who are excelling and trying to show that they have something special to contribute to the cause. In JK’s time, and that is the only time that matters Eric has stumbled around trying to nail down a job at Villa. He failed at that . Why should the US reward him for being a failure?
        Now he is trying to do the same at Forest. Good for him but it’s all up to Eric to force JK to change his mind about him.
        The point is the USMNT is not in the business of developing players per se. They are supposed to be as close as possible to the whatever the manager needs them to be. Orienting them to the team through bad spells is one thing but trying to get them to develop a consistency they do not have at the club level ? That is something else.

        Eric may have a great upside but it won’t be developed in USMNT camp if only because National teams don’t have time to straighten out a player who is as demonstrably inconsistent as Lichaj is. And playing in England means he can’t attend January’s Camp Cupcake the longest lasting USMNT camp.

        A guy like him needs a more stable, Lichaj-sympathetic club situation to work out his inconsistencies. That is why he moved to Forest.

        You saw what a stable club situation did for Jozy’s USMNT chances. And you see what the lack of the same is doing to Fredinho’s chances.

        Jozy had his ups and downs, but the difference is the USMNT had few if any viable alternatives for Jozy while JK seems to be happy and successful with the alternatives to Lichaj.
        Castillo and Fiscal needed to be worked into the US team but they were playing reasonably well and getting PT for their clubs.
        And what y’all keep not mentioning about Parkhurst is that he earned his way into the US rotation because of his performances at that Danish club culminating with a great performance against Chelsea in the Champion’s league. That is what got him into this position. Now if he continues to not play at Augsburg obviously he won’t be able to continue but it hasn’t quite gotten to that point yet.

        Lichaj never did anything like that or played consistently well enough in JK’s time to even get his foot in the door in the first place.

        Eric played for Bradley but he was far from a proven regular. He got plaudits but how much of that was because he replaced arguably the single most maligned player in US history, Bornstein?? Eric had an awful 2011 Gold Cup final where he gave the second goal to Guardado and showed he was a poor replacement for Dolo ( an inability ot retain possession). And then he had a bad hip injury.

        So it makes sense that JK would take the same route with Eric that he took with that other 2011 Gold Cup final survivor, Ale Bedoya. And that was “show me consistently good play and desire at the club level and eventually you will get your shot”.

        When Lambert, the current Villa manager, took over for the 2012-13 season the first thing he did was buy a right back. The second thing he did was buy a left back.When the season started he gave Eric a shot at beating out his new competition. Eric put in 23 appearances across all competitons that season , twice what he had done in any other year for Villa. Eric was unable to retain the starting position. After that he was relegated to mop up duty. So Eric was given his shot.
        Compare Lichaj to another fullback/midfielder who isn’t being called in, Jonny Spector who , at 27, has a much more distinguished record for the US, in the EPL and in the Championship. Spector is back from injury now and is going 90 for Birmingham, another club in the Championship.
        The only thing Eric has over him is speed yet I see no great outcry over his exclusion.
        Compare Lichaj to his fellow Gold Cup survivor Bedoya and you see much more consistency over a longer period of time from Bedoya.
        To me five or six good games at Forest is not enough to prove Lichaj has finally developed the necessary consistency. Better to let him build up his consistency and confidence over a longer period like Ale did with Helsingborg. There is still time for Eric to get a call up before the World Cup but it is really up to him to impress JK.

      • either you haven’t followed him for the past few years, or you’re being intentionally disingenuous.

        it’s true that lichaj had only 32 appearances for aston villa in that time period. but he wasn’t at aston villa that whole time (he was loaned out), so he couldn’t have played for them.

        and i’m sure you know that the way a player leaves his team isn’t always a foolproof way of determining their worth (unless you think david villa was only worth 3m euro). villa didn’t pay anything to get him; so it wasn’t like they were losing a whole lot in not renewing his contract.

        i’m not saying that he’s been great in the top flight (though he’s had his moments), but you just seem to be trying to put his career in a worse light than it should be.

      • That is the main point, Nate Dollars. Aston Villa did not end his contract prematurely, they let it run down. This happens.

      • @SoundersOff: I’m all for good debate on systems and players, but Michael Parkhurst did not acquit himself well in the Bundesliga. He was horrid in the Bundesliga. He was so bad that his team, which stayed up, wanted him this August to leave, but no one wanted him. The team said to him, we rate you so poorly that we aren’t even going to bring you back into the squad after playing five games in the Gold Cup as a USMNT player, we would like you to go. No other team in the Bundesliga–not even a newly promoted team–or anyplace else in Europe wanted him. He did not have to go down a division like a lot players have done in order to get playing time to try to impress Klinsmann, because his buddy Jurgen will call him up for USMNT duty even when he is not making the roster. No need to man up and make a move down to 1860 Munich and maybe have to take a bit of a paycut but at the same time get some playing time, because good ol’ Uncle Jurg will lend a helping hand.

        Michael Parkhurst had just three appearances for Augsburg since early February. For the record, that would average out to about 6 appearances a year. To claim he performed well discredits whatever other good points you could have made.

      • shouldn’t have stopped reading at ‘2010/2011’, because his point wasn’t to bring up a player’s form back then, it was to provide context to prior comments.

      • Parkhurst did not get his place in the USMNT rotation based on his work in Germany.

        He won it based on his work in Denmark and the Champion’s league. If his inactivity continues he will lose it but it has not quite gotten to that point yet.

    • How does the winning streak make Lichaj’s situation harder to understand? Most of those wins have come with RBs who are very conservative with the ball. My memory of watching Lichaj play is that he wasn’t very calm on the ball, and that seems to be a common criticism. Could be a good thing for his development not to have disrupted his club situation with GC and friendly call ups and let him get a run of caps and hone his craft. Parkhurst’s current situation is f’d, but prior to Augsberg, he (like everyone else in the 23) was an established player for a professional club. Lichaj got several games last season, but he was a temporary solution for Villa. This season is really his first opportunity to entrench himself.

    • He has the unfortunate circumstance of having missed their entire preseason because of the Gold Cup and also playing the same position as their team captain who also happens to have just been capped by the Netherlands senior team.

      • You know it’s never that simple. He got to move from a smaller club in a smaller league to a Bundesliga side. The pay raise must have been brilliant.

      • i’m not saying he shouldn’t have moved there; not my life, and he should do what he wants.

        i’m just saying ‘unfortunate’ isn’t how i would characterize it, because it’s not like it’s surprising that he would be in this situation.

  4. wasn’t Lazio one of the teams? didn’t they want to sign him but couldn’t due to financial reasons. so they are waiting to sign him during the winter. i’ve heard that a few places now.

  5. I realize that my logic so far has run contrary to the head coach of a team on a historic hot streak, but… at RB Cameron>Evans>Parkhurst

    my logic being a RB playing 90 min full-time RB in a top 3 league is better than a CM/RM playing 90 min in MLS (a 20-25th league) which in turn is better than a RB not playing at all at the club level for going on nine months…. what do y’all think?

    • You assume a RB is a RB.

      Coach’s have systems. Players fit or they don’t.

      Would Parkhurst be able to play at Stoke as a RB? Probably not. Stoke’s system relies on a stout, compact, highly physical and tall defense that maintains a rigid form behind the ball.


      In the USMNT system, a RB is expected to function as a wingback. He is both a winger and a defender, interchanging with the right midfielder to confuse the defense and introduce another ball crosser on overlaps.

      Knowing that system, Parkhurst is a much more capable RB for the national team because he gets forward well, keeps the ball well and can deliver accurate passes quickly.

      The very reason Dani Alves is a sub-par defender, but the perfect RB for Barcelona.

    • National team or really any team selection values intangibles just as much as logic, as well as system fits like SoundersOff is talking about.

      That said,
      Im pretty sure Cameron will start at RB.

    • For what it’s worth, I agree with you. But I think Cameron’s best spot might be defensive mid with Bradley instead of J Jones. Jones’ proclivity for cards worries me.

    • As others have stated the style of play that JK wants out of his outside backs does not fit well with Cameron’s skill set. The players that fit the outside back model JK wants (Attacking Overlaps, Speed, Skill, Defending) is as follows:
      RB – Dolo > Chandler > Lichaj > Evans > Parkhurst > Cameron > Orozco
      however, due to injury, lack of club PT, attitude, or familiarity with the rest of the team we are basically left with tail end of the pool to choose from for these matches. That is why many wanted Lichaj and/or Chandler called into the B&H Friendly….It’s not a knock against Evans or Cameron…but more to insure we have depth enough to insure we’re covered for both the near & long term.
      LB – F. Johnson > Beasley > Licahj > Castillo

  6. Is anybody else worried that we will lose these next 2 games? I mean, I’m not trying to somber the mood … but it’s a good possibility. One is against a team we’ve never beaten away. The second versus what could be a desparate (or, if they win against Honduras, a confident) Mexico.

    Plus we’re due to lose and snap the streak.

    I don’t have a good feeling about this.

    • Look at it this way, that is the way most US fans have felt before every game in the last 50 years, but there is more reason to be optimistic now than ever.

    • As a US fan, I always have this worry. But the beauty is we’ve put ourselves in a great position that we don’t have to win these next two games. Even if we don’t get a single point out of these games, we’re still in good shape to qualify.

    • If they were still playing the way the did a year ago? Yes, but Klinsman has righted the ship, I’m guessing 4 points realistic out of this. 2 at the worst. We are fortunate to have Jamaica, at home I think, as our last game, in case we are in a must win situation

    • “We’re due to lose” is not a very compelling argument. Costa Rica will be a tough one, no doubt about that. A point would be a decent result, though we should obviously be aiming for the win. There’s a reason Mexico has been struggling – they aren’t a very good team right now. Especially considering the game is in Columbus, we have every reason to expect to win.

      • The inverse of this set (march) we got 4 points-3 at home and 1 on the road-while its always a possibility that we dont get anything the betting line should be closer to 4 points

    • I checked it out and in the last 4 qualifiers played in the US against Mexico, the US has won 2-0 each time, for an 8-0 aggregate. Does anyone doubt that this US team is almost certainly better than its predecessors? And this looks like one of the weaker Mexican teams. Of course, qualifying is always dangerous and you never ever look past Mexico, but we should win.

  7. “Parkhurst gets forward, a trait Klinsmann values in his fullbacks, to greater effect than both Cameron and Orozco. ”
    But those forays are not effective at all. Cameron is more reliable and Orozco is more agressive than Parkhurst.

    • I agree. Every time he passes midfield he either gives it away or makes a useless short pass, he never starts anything with the ball. I would prefer Cameron who is a much more sound defender and plays at the highest level week in and week out.

  8. Parkhurst can’t get in the squad for his club but he’s going to start over Cameron, who starts at RB every week in the Premier League? Why?

    • Cameron’s starting to get forward more too. He has 10 attempted crosses in his last two games for Stoke. None of them were particularly good, but it’s a start…

      I still would like to see Cameron get a little more time playing with Bradley. He’d have less of a responsibility to get forward playing strictly behind Bradley than he would at right back. D-mid suits his game much better.

      • Definitely agree. Cameron has been played out of his preferred midfield position. He is much more disciplined in that position then Jones and worked well with Bradley during the WCQ he played there. Bradley would definitely have the chance to be more involved offensively and not worry if he’s dropping back as much or not. Cameron is also a better passer then Jones, who is more of a pure destroyer.

      • Please give this argument a rest. “His preferred midfield position” He may prefer it but I havent seen a coach use him in that spot in a consistent manner in years. Geoff is a solid back up option should we need on at CDM but he is not better suited to play there then JJ, Mix, even Beckerman. Geoff is decent at many positons but not great at any. JJ is class not sure why yall cant see it.

      • He’s (JJ) class in the pure #6 role of defensive mid, but strays too many times up the field and loses the ball easily, aka why he was subbed so quick against Bosnia. If he stayed in that role as a defensive mid, I’m all for it. But he’s too undisciplined. Cameron usually doesn’t play in that position because he’s so versatile, which is far from a bad thing. Putting Mix in front of him is a bad argument as Mix isn’t a defensive midfielder, and Beckerman may have played well in the Gold Cup, but is ill suited to the quicker national game of stronger teams, while Cameron plays at the speed of international competition at a more consistent level. His versatility is almost a hindrance to him being able to play at the position he’s better at then those other players because of the need through injuries. He was a midfielder in Houston, and thrived there. He was only moved to defense because of the need through injuries, and thrived there as well.

      • Touche, you make some good points. I do agree that JJ tends to bomb forward quite a bit, but I have heard Klinsy state he likes both cm having the go ahead to move forward interchangaby. If that is the case then JJ and MB are the only two way CM But Geoff did prove he is a legit holding cm.

      • “AC – He’s (JJ) class in the pure #6 role of defensive mid, but strays too many times up the field and loses the ball easily, aka why he was subbed so quick against Bosnia. If he stayed in that role as a defensive mid, I’m all for it. But he’s too undisciplined.”

        Are you talking about Jones? In the Bosnia game he was subbed out in the 69th minute by Sacha. That is not early.

        JK subbed in Castillo for Mix at halftime, JK then pushed EJ up top with Jozy, Fabian up into the left wing and JJ forward into the hole.

        This created a five-man attacking front in place of the four attacking players in the 4-2-3-1 they started with . JJ was attacking and Bradley was staying back covering the back four.

        The US did not go into a 4-4-2. It was more like a 4-1(Bradley)-1(Jones) -2-2. JJ replaced Mix who was getting pushed around and this 4 man attack along with Jones is what set off the comeback.

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