Parkhurst unsure of his USMNT position, expects fierce competition in camp
While many expected the Columbus Crew's Michael Parkhurst to be on the U.S. Men's National Team World Cup roster, there were no guarantees. And now that National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has released his preliminary 30-man roster, Parkhurst knows that three will be plenty of competition to make the cut for the 23 who will go to Brazil.
Parkhurst, who is expected to play fullback for the National Team but can play in any position along the backline, said that with a roster filled with fullback options (DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Brad Evans, Fabian Johnson, Deandre Yedlin and Parkhurst) he expects a fierce competition.
“There are a lot of potential outside backs there,” Parkhurst said in a conference call with the media Monday. “There are a lot of guys with versatility. I don't really know if Cameron is an outside back or a centerback or is Johnson an outside back or an outside mid, but either way there's going to be a lot of competition.
That's why Jürgen is bringing in 30 rather than cutting it down to 23 right away. He wants to see competition. He wants to see guys step up and play well.”
Versatility will be important for the 30-year-old former FC Augsburg defender in his own right, and even after receiving the call, Parkhurst still doesn't know whether he's competing for the left or right fullback spot, but hopes that his combination of skill and intangibles gets him on the plane.
“I'm somebody who brings a lot of experience to the team, I've got good chemistry,” he said. “I hope the versatility helps me in the end. I don't know right now whether I’m fighting for leftback or rightback, but that doesn't matter to me. Wherever I can help the team, wherever I can solidify a position in the 11 or the 23, I'll do it. And I think [Klinsmann] knows I'm a guy who puts the team first.”
The Rhode Island native played in Denmark and Germany before returning to MLS with the Crew in 2014. When he arrived, he said that he came back because of the opportunity to fight for a World Cup spot, an idea that would have been unthinkable a short time ago.
“Three, four, five years ago, everyone was in a rush to get over to Europe to get better and get in the National Team,” he said. “Now, it's not necessary as far as having a chance for the National Team. MLS is providing a platform that's readying guys to play internationally.”
He cited the largely-MLS National Team roster that tied Mexico 2-2 in a friendly in Phoenix in April as a sign of what the League has become.
“It's neither team's [best] 18, but I don't think maybe four years ago an all-MLS team is playing a first half like we did against Mexico and taking them to the brink there,” he said. “So it speaks volumes about where the League has come in such a short time.”
Parkhurst is expected to join the USMNT camp in Palo Alto, Calif. on Tuesday.