Augsburg – Moving from a side in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League to one in the throes of a Bundesliga relegation battle may seem like a backward step to some people, but for FC Augsburg’s new recruit Michael Parkhurst, it was an opportunity not to be passed up.
The 29-year-old was snapped up by the Bavarians during the winter break from Danish side FC Nordsjaelland and, in spite of Augsburg's lowly position in the table, Parkhurst was delighted at the chance to move to a “fast-paced and technical league”, as he explained in an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com.
Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, in the United States, Parkhurst first made a name for himself with Major League Soccer outfit New England Revolution, whom he joined in 2005. After three seasons in the MLS, he then made the move to Europe and Nordsjaelland in 2008, playing over 100 games for the club before his January transfer to Augsburg.
The situation was far from rosy when Parkhurst arrived, but the defender has settled in just fine: “My family and I have found a nice place to live and we’re enjoying our first few weeks here. Everybody at the club has been extremely helpful during the transition.”
“Almost all aspects of the Bundesliga attracted me here," he continued. "It’s one of the strongest leagues in the world, the players are technically and tactically adept and the stadiums are fantastic."
Parkhurst sought the advice of current Hannover 96 captain and fellow compatriot Steven Cherundolo before signing: “He had good things to say about the city and the club. It was good to get a respected player's view beforehand." The 15-time international is a similar type of player to the Hannover veteran. “I am just an honest, hard-working player," he says. "There’s nothing fancy in my game. I stick to the basics of defending well."
He has some way to go before he can match Cherundolo's near 300 appearances in the Bundesliga, but the American certainly got off to a positive start on his debut, a 1-1 draw against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 21.
So far in his professional career he has never been involved in a relegation battle, but Parkhurst insists there is a whole-hearted belief at the club that Augsburg can prolong their stay in the top-flight for another season.
“Although we’re well aware of the situation, the team chemistry is very good. We fight every week like it is our last and we know every point is vital. It will be a difficult task of course but it’s not impossible. Augsburg had a great second half of the season last year to avoid relegation so we are hoping for the same this time around.”
With injuries to team captain Paul Verhaegh and Ronny Philp, Parkhurst could well play a major part in the club’s bid to survive, starting away at Bayer Leverkusen this weekend.