When corralled by the media during preseason, Revolution rookie Michael Parkhurst explained how he was adapting to his role as the de facto center back during the latter stages of the preseason.
"It took me a couple of weeks to adjust to the change in pace," said Parkhurst in late March. "I'm trying to get up to the level of the players around me."
The early-season Rookie of the Year candidate has apparently found that level without trouble.
Parkhurst has made the adjustment seamlessly, marshaling the Revolution defense with veteran aplomb through the first eight matches of the season.
Looking more like a seasoned warrior than naïve rookie, Parkhurst leads a miserly three-man backline that has conceded only seven goals in eight matches.
Despite the torrid start, the rookie from Wake Forest University sees room for improvement.
"I'm definitely still learning," said Parkhurst. "We haven't played everyone in the league yet. I need to learn about their habits and how each team plays."
Skeptics wondered if a rookie could center a stingy defense with vocal leadership. Parkhurst admits that the necessity of communication continues to play a vital role as he progresses.
"I am trying to communicate as much as possible," said Parkhurst. "I'm trying to figure out when to talk and how to talk. When do I get on someone or be constructive in my criticism? It'll probably work out going forward."
Self-assured from the first whistle of the new season, Parkhurst maintains that he is growing in confidence as the matches pass.
"With experience, you get more comfortable," said Parkhurst. "You pick up little situations here and there. That gives you confidence. The teammates also give you confidence."
Revolution coach Steve Nicol, a fine center back during his years at Liverpool, notes that his rookie defender has all the necessary tools to achieve at the highest levels if he maintains his commitment to learning.
"He's just getting experience," said Nicol. "He has all the tools. He needs to keep playing, learning, and filling his head his head with all of the things that he has never faced before."
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.