FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Former New England Revolution star and Rhode Island native Michael Parkhurst is heading back to MLS, but it won’t be with his hometown club after the Revolution traded his rights to the Columbus Crew in exchange for the fourth overall 2014 MLS SuperDraft Pick and allocation money. The Crew immediately announced the signing of Parkhurst, a defender. The move leaves the Revolution with three first round picks: fourth, twelfth, and nineteenth overall (acquired from Kansas City in exchange for Benny Feilhaber last offseason).
“We certainly value Michael as a player having had him with us six seasons ago, but this trade provided us too much to pass up,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a statement from the team. “This deal provides us with a significant amount of flexibility, both for our salary cap and our roster, and allows us to make additional moves to continue improving our roster.”
Parkhurst has spent the past year playing for FC Augsburg in the German Budesliga, but struggled for playing time, thus prompting his move back to MLS as he looks set to battle for a spot on the U.S. National Team for the 2014 World Cup. Parkhurst played for the Revolution from 2005 till 2008 – beside current head coach Jay Heaps in the backline – after the club drafted him out of Wake Forest University with the ninth overall pick of the 2005 SuperDraft. Parkhurst played as a center back for the team, earning MLS Rookie of the Year in 2005 and MLS Defender of the Year in 2007 before leaving the club for F.C. Nordsjælland in Denmark after his contract expired at the end of the 2008 season.
Parkhurst, who began playing right back after moving to Europe, transferred to Augsburg after his Nordsjælland contract expired at the end of 2012, but has been unable to hold down a regular spot in the first team. The 5-foot-11 Cranston-native has also appeared 23 times for the U.S. National Team, including playing a big role in this summer’s 2013 Gold Cup winning team.
“We are excited to be adding a top quality player like Michael to our club,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter in a statement from the team. “He is an elite player that will have an immediate impact both on and off the field. Michael’s success in Major League Soccer, combined with his proven experience in Europe and with the U.S. Men’s National Team make him a valuable piece for our team.”
The Revolution appears to have their right back of the future in Andrew Farrell, but could’ve likely used Parkhurst at centerback beside reigning MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves. The team has struggled for consistency at that spot with A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy both seeing extended time partnering Goncalves this past season. Still, Parkhurst’s salary, reported to be near the league maximum without crossing the Designated Player threshold (which was $368,750 as of the 2013 season), likely deterred the Revolution from bringing him back as they club has more pressing needs, including finding a striker to replace Juan Agudelo.
Parkhurst won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup and 2008 SuperLiga Championship with the Revolution.