ATLANTA, Ga. — Atlanta United survived and advanced against the New England Revolution Saturday in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs, but it came at a cost in the form of Michael Parkhurst, who left the game early with a shoulder injury.
The 35-year-old center back — who recently announced his retirement upon season’s end — collided with an opponent and dislocated his left shoulder according to Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer after the match. Team physios were unable to relocate Parkhurst’s arm into the shoulder socket on the field, and he left the stadium in an ambulance to a local hospital with the joint still dislocated.
The injury happened just over a minute into stoppage time after Atlanta United had already used its final sub of the game.
“It's not easy to finish a game with 10 players, so it's unfortunate what happened to the old man,” Josef Martinez said afterward. “In these important games at the end of the season, you always benefit from having experience, so we had guys step up who haven't played a lot of minutes this season. It's unfortunate what happened to Parky.”
“Hopefully it’s not too serious,” said Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “He was obviously massive for our team and was having a fantastic game. A play in the first half when it was 2-v-1 he snuffs that out. So hopefully it’s not too serious and he gets well sooner than later.”
Frank de Boer speculated in his post-match press conference that the injury was “all bad news” and that it’s the type of injury that will probably keep him out for the duration of the playoffs.
“Normally, he’s probably out for a couple of weeks,” said De Boer. “We have to think about how are we going to solve this. We will enjoy this victory today, but tomorrow, we are going to find out who we play against, and then, I will have to make my decisions on who will play. It’s quite thin at the back right now.”
Jeff Larentowicz said Parkhurst’s injury just means there’s an opportunity for another player in the squad, and they’ll need to be ready just the way Parkhurst was after Miles Robinson pulled his left hamstring while on duty with the US men’s national team.
“About a month and a half ago, me and [Parkhurst] were kind of buried on the bench and not thinking that we were saving ourselves for a playoff game,” said Larentowicz. “You have to be ready, and I think with [Parkhurst] now injured for an unknown time, and Miles the same, somebody has to step up.”