Two soccer players going after the ball

Michael Parkhurst (shown here against the Houston Dynamo) has been the picture of durability for the Columbus Crew SC. (Photo courtesy of the Columbus Crew SC)

As a defender for the Columbus Crew SC, Michael Parkhurst likes to make the most out of every opportunity he’s given. Parkhurst was glad one of his opportunities wasn’t taken away from him when the Black and Gold defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 April 23 at MAPFRE Stadium.

Parkhurst, Columbus’ captain the last three seasons, was inadvertently given a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity in the 86th minute of a 3-2 home win over New York City FC on April 16. In an April 18 match report, the referee cited a case of mistaken identity and said the red card should have been given to Tyson Wahl. Three days after that, Wahl’s red card was also rescinded.

“I don’t like to miss games. That’s for sure,” Parkhurst said after the win over Houston improved the Crew SC to 2-3-2 overall after the first seven matches. “I figured it would get overturned but you never know. Crazy things have happened before.

“Not only did they switch from me but they rescinded it from Tyson. That was nice. Both of us were able to play this weekend and keep that rhythm going. I think the partnership has been pretty good.”

The Crew SC experienced the other side of the red card against Houston. In the 18th minute, Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric was ejected for taking down Federico Higuain in front of the goal. That set up Kei Kamara’s bullet-like penalty kick, his first PK in his career with Columbus.

Columbus didn’t score again that night but it maintained a club-high 73.37 percent possession of the ball.

“I know how the game went with what happened on the field and that’s part of soccer. In my eyes I’m proud of the team because I think it was a really professional performance,” SC Sporting Director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We have the tendency to get sloppy and to maybe get discouraged if you don’t get that second goal up a man, but I think that it was a very professional performance and we really didn’t give them anything. So I think it was good. I was happy with it.”

“We stuck to our game plan regardless of what happened on the field. I mean, obviously, 16 minutes into the game there’s a red card and a penalty and we score. And it changes the complexion a little bit, but I think the way they came out for the first 16 minutes was still a defensive setup,” midfielder Wil Trapp added.  “The relentless effort I thought was really key in finishing out the game.

It was a lot nicer for the Crew SC to be the benefactor rather than the recipient of a red card like it had been last week. The rescinded red card was only the second red for Parkhurst, who is one of two players to have earned the Xbox Individual Fair Play award three times in his seven-year career.

As he stated earlier, Parkhurst doesn’t like to miss a thing. Last year he led the team in minutes played with 2,895, and started in all 33 games he played in and was second in minutes played (2,806) to midfielder Tony Tchani (2,942).

At 32, Parkhurst has put a lot of mileage on his body. Seven games into this season, the defender has logged over 16,619 career minutes and has started in 187 of the 188 MLS games he has played during his three year stint with Columbus and  a four-year stint with the New England Revolution (2005-08).

Parkhurst was at a loss for explaining his durability.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a little bit of good fortune and me taking care of my body I guess. I expect to be out there every week.”

Playing time and starts haven’t always been guarantees for Parkhurst. Prior to coming to Columbus, he played five season with F.C. Nordsjaelland in Denmark from 2008-13. He worked his way into the starting rotation with his top season, starting in 30 matches during the 2011-12 season. After leaving Denmark, he made only two appearances in two seasons with Augsburg in the Bundesliga.

Playing in Europe turned out to be quite an education for Parkhurst.

“I learned a lot tactically when I was there,” he said. “We didn’t do too much tactical work under Steve Nicol when I was in New England. The league back then wasn’t too much tactically influenced. Denmark was just the opposite. It really furthered my game a little bit, especially my knowledge of the game and different ways to play.”



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