What are the Columbus Crew getting in Michael Parkhurst? MLS' most responsible defender

Michael Parkhurst with the US national team

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports

On Monday, Michael Parkhurst came back to Major League Soccer after a four-year absence.

He returns to MLS after not playing first-team club soccer for almost a year, making his last appearance for FC Augsburg back in February. His last meaningful time on the field was with the US national team in the Gold Cup, during which he performed well enough to be subbed on for the second half against Mexico in Columbus.

Parkhurst will hope to return to the form he enjoyed over the summer when he reports to training camp with the Crew in less than a month. He will also be looking back at his time spent in MLS with fondness, the 2005 Rookie of the Year and the 2007 Defender of the Year awards feathers in his domestic cap. Parkhurst was able to win those awards, in part, by not committing fouls.

As you can see in the chart below, which ranks the player with the most minutes played per foul (minimum 5,000 minutes played), Parkhurst committed only 32 fouls during 10,297 minutes played in MLS, making him the best defender in the history of the league in terms of avoiding fouls.

PLAYER FOULS COMMITTED MINUTES PLAYED PER FOUL (MIN. 5,000)
Terry Cooke 23 343.35
Michael Parkhurst 32 321.78
Darlington Nagbe 32 227.38
Tim Ream 23 226.96
Carlos Valderrama 85 183.78

Parkhurst was also extremely reliable over the course of this MLS career, missing only nine games during four seasons. In the 115 games Parkhurst started between 2005 and 2008, he played 90 minutes in all but one, a track record that resulted in the Wake Forest product playing 92 percent of the Revs’ total minutes during that period.

Chad Marshall, the player he is likely replacing in Columbus with Chad Barson settling in at right back, has played in 78 percent of the Crew’s total minutes over the past two seasons.

With the acquisition of Parkhurst, the Crew know they are getting two things: a player who is reliable and one who will not foul. Both should come in handy on a team that conceded the third most fouls in MLS 2013 and struggled to find a consistent center-back pairing following the now-departed Gláuber’s season-ending injury.