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Michael Parkhurst making the move to Germany, signs with Augsberg

Dec 19, 2012, 11:45 AM EDT

Chelsea's Fernando Torres challenges FC Nordsjaelland's Michael Parkhurst during their Champions League Group E soccer match in London Getty Images

A few years ago, Ricardo Clark made the move from Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo to Eintracht Frankfurt. A few months later, he in the German second division.

Around the same time, Benny Feilhaber was going through a demotion with Denmark’s Aarhus. Thanks to the competitive vagaries of European soccer, not all quests for top-flight action stay on course.

Today, another U.S. international’s announced a move that could turn sour.

After a UEFA Champions League campaign that saw him get a crack at Chelsea, Juventus, and Shakhtar Donestsk, former New England Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst is making the move to Germany’s first division. The 28-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Augsburg of the Bundesliga.

“I’m looking forward to playing at FC Augsburg and in the Bundesliga,” said Parkhurst. “I’d like to do my bit so that we can achieve our aim of staying up in the second half of the season. I watched the game against Bayern Munich at the SGL arena and despite the defeat I was impressed with the fantastic atmosphere. That’s why I can hardly wait to get out there and play myself.”

Don’t underestimate the role of that “fantastic atmosphere.” It’s a quality that’s benefitting some teams at home, and the consistent presence of large, loud, television-friendly crowds was a major factor in the rise of England’s Premier League. It’s also one of the reasons many evaluate the Bundesliga as the world’s second-best league.

And no doubt about it: This is a great move for Parkhurst. The specter of the second division’s obviously worth noting, but this is his shot at playing in one of the best leagues in the world, even if that only lasts for six months. He not only has to jump at that chance, he should see it as a major career achievement.

“I worked my way into the Bundesliga.” Something nobody can ever take away.

More on Parkhurst’s fit at Augsburg:

“Michael Parkhurst is an experienced defender who played primarily at right-back for Nordsjaelland,” said sporting director Jürgen Rollmann. “It’s well known that we’ve had problems in that position. However, Parkhurst can also play on the left or in the centre of defence and we’re sure he’ll help our team.”

As of now, Augsburg sits 17th in the 18-team Bundesliga – relegation territory. They’re three points back of 16th-place Hoffenheim, but that spot’s not exactly safe. That only gets you into a relegation playoff against a 2. Bundesliga team. Augsburg are actually 10 points back of true safety.

So while this is a banner day for Parkhurst – a man who paid his dues in Denmark before getting this big break – in six months, it could turn sour. And for that matter, the professional lives of Hoffenheim’s Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams could take a turn for the worse come May.

Germany’s first division: Taking inventory of its U.S. internationals.

  1. tchaikicksky - Dec 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    This is a great move for Parkhurst even if the risks of him being in 2. Bundesliga in 6 months are very real. Why does that have to be a negative mark anyway? The guy should be fully aware it’s a possibility and, even if it pans out that way I don’t think he would look at it as a failure. How long is his contract? Will Augsburg management look at the Parkhust signing as a failure if they are relegated to 2. Bundes? If anything, it should be motivation for Parkhurst to stay with Augsburg and fight for promotion into the Bundesliga next year. Doesn’t sound real pretty or glamorous but as I stated before, I’m quite sure he’s aware of all the possibilities and how silly it would be for him or the media to view it as his career going “sour”.

    • Richard Farley - Dec 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Nobody said anything about his career going sour (I don’t think). It’s pretty clear that if he signs for a first division team that ends up in the second, that would be a sub-optimal (even “sour”) thing.

      • tchaikicksky - Dec 19, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        Yeah, understood. Especially coming from Nordsjaelland playing in the Champions League. I guess “not optimal” would work.

      • Richard Farley - Dec 19, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        Still a great move for him. Some risk, of course, but like I say above, dude’s going to be playing in the Bundesliga. Amazing.

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