OBETZ, Ohio – When it was announced Thursday that Michael Parkhurst had missed out on Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man USMNT World Cup roster, some fans of the Columbus Crew looked on the bright side – he would be back on the field for their team in short order.
But after Crew training Friday, head coach and former USMNT defender Gregg Berhalter said he would much rather be missing his captain if it meant sending Parkhurst to Brazil.
“We've got to look at it like this: if you ask me, 'Am I happy that I can select him for the next four, five games?' the answer is yes,” Berhalter said. “But I'm not that short-sighted that I don't recognize what it would have done for his career, and in turn what it means to the whole team to have him there.
“All the guys are disappointed, and I would gladly have sacrificed those five games for him to have a World Cup experience any day.”
And as much as Berhalter would have liked to have seen his player in Brazil, he'll be welcoming back a player with considerable MLS, European and international experience who had played every minute of the Crew's 10 games prior to departing for USMNT camp. With Parkhurst out, Columbus conceded three goals for the first time in 2014, on the road in Portland.
Despite the return of an important piece in the lineup, Berhalter said that disappointment could be felt at Friday's practice, and that he had heard from some of his players when news broke Thursday.
“There was a lot of talk about the roster [today], obviously,” he said. “A lot of guys thought [Parkhurst] had a good chance to make it, so there's still definitely concern and we'll talk about it.”
And though the team may be feeling down after Parkhurst's exclusion, Berhalter made it clear that the defender was feeling it the most.
“I was disappointed for him; I felt his sadness,” Berhalter said. “We were all pulling for him to make it, especially considering how we've seen him prepare for this and how seriously he took it and all the extra running he did and the whole process. We were with him along the whole path.”
“There are a lot of different ways to go about it, and I think it's a clear direction that the coach showed,” Berhalter said. “He wants a team also for the future. That's the way he chose to go, that's what it seems like with the inclusion of Green and Yedlin and a couple of the other younger guys.”
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For Parkhurst, the disappointment can manifest itself in one of two ways, Berhalter said.
“You can use it as something that really drags you down, or you can use it as motivation to prove everyone wrong,” Berhalter said. “And Michael, I believe, is the type of guy to take it as motivation, and I think it's going to boost him.”
While Parkhurst will be back in Columbus for Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live), Berhalter isn't sure he'll see the lineup. And while he knows the Crew captain will want to play, he may think better of resting him.
“I don't want to frame it as, 'if he wants to play,' because he definitely wants to play,” Berhalter said. “I think it's more of what type of mindset he's in and what kind of physical condition he's in. They've been doing a lot of work there, he flew cross-country yesterday, so we have to make sure he's right physically and mentally. I can guarantee that he wants to play this game.”