OBETZ, Ohio – Just more than two months before the World Cup, Columbus Crew defender Michael Parkhurst is feeling even better about his chances of making it to Brazil after being called into USMNT camp for next week's friendly against Mexico in Phoenix (April 2, 11 pm ET, ESPN, UniMas).
Parkhurst said he was “thrilled” by the news, and spent days watching his email in anticipation.
“You're looking for it every day because you don't know when you're coming, whether it's Monday or later in the week like it came,” Parkhurst told reporters after Crew training on Thursday. “It's a little nervy, but it is what it is. If it's going to come, it's going to come. But it's a relief to finally receive it.”
After starting the last USMNT friendly against South Korea on Feb. 1, Parkhurst is feeling optimistic about his chances for a trip to Brazil, though he knows there's a lot of work left to do between now and June.
“It shows me that I have a chance, for sure,” he said. “A lot of things will happen between now and the World Cup. There will be some injuries unfortunately – hopefully not, but most likely – guys will play themselves onto the team, guys will play themselves off the team. So I just know that this is a good opportunity for me to have a couple days of training and hopefully, whatever time I get in the game, prove myself.”
Parkhurst's Columbus Crew boss Gregg Berhalter seemed more confident about the defender's Brazil chances, and welcomed the opportunity to see Parkhurst on the national stage.
“It's great; I think he deserves it,” Berhalter said. “It's a good opportunity for him to cement his place in the World Cup team, and I'm confident that he'll have a good game and play well.”
A versatile defender, Parkhurst plays in the center of defense for the Crew but has featured largely at right back for the national team, though his start against South Korea came at left back.
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Despite his inclusion in camp, Parkhurst said he hasn't heard from head coach Jurgen Klinsmann since January. But Berhalter said he's spoken to Klinsmann and that the US coach doesn't care where in the Crew defense Parkhurst has been lining up. Less than a week before the Mexico game, Parkhurst still doesn't know where he'll be playing.
“I know that I'm an outside back for sure with the national team, so I don't think I'll be playing any center back,” he said. “But whether that’s left or right, I don't know. I see both Brad [Evans] and DeAndre [Yedlin] on the roster, so I’m not sure if that puts me on the left or not. Either way, I'm just going out there with the mindset that this is a great opportunity for me, and I've got to push it and make it happen.”
Parkhurst will play in Saturday's Crew match at the Seattle Sounders (10 pm ET; MLS Free Stream of the Week) before joining the Phoenix camp and is expected to return to Columbus for the club's April 5 matchup against Toronto FC and USMNT teammate Michael Bradley. Berhalter expects Parkhurst to be ready to go for both matches, and doesn't mind the hectic schedule for his captain. He said it's a product of having successful players.
“It's part of the game,” he said. “In the world, you look at the games guys are playing, and it’s normal. Guys from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, they're playing twice a week every week for the whole season with national team duty and Champions League and German Cup and league games.”