STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — One ill-timed bout with the flu sure affected Michael Parkhurst's fortunes in a hurry with his new German club team, Augsburg.
The American defender made two appearances in February 2013, then missed two games while sick. When he returned, he only dressed three more times for the club and never got into another match during his year in Germany.
Now, Parkhurst is thrilled to be back in Major League Soccer with the Columbus Crew at age 30, and he reported to the U.S. World Cup training camp last week hoping to land a spot on Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster headed to Brazil next month. The U.S. team was scheduled for scrimmages Tuesday, a week before an exhibition against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park.
"It's definitely good to be back part of a team and battling with the guys week in and week out, just to be part of a locker room that's really close knit and we've got good chemistry," Parkhurst said. "To be one of the leaders on the team as well, it's just a total 180 from last year, for the better."
The 2005 MLS Rookie of the Year and '07 Defender of the Year with the New England Revolution, Parkhurst had established himself with Denmark's Nordsjaelland during parts of five seasons starting in early 2009. The move to the Bundesliga figured to be a step up, but the man who recruited him, Juergen Rollmann, was replaced by former German national team defender Stefan Reuter before Parkhurst arrived.
Parkhurst wound up making just the two appearances for Augsburg, entering in the 42nd minute against Mainz on Feb. 10 last year and starting six days later against Bayer Leverkusen.
"It was the first time in my career kind of on the outside looking in, not really a part of the team week in and week out, being out there on the field contributing," he said. "You just try at that point to be a good professional and wait your turn and see what's next, because I knew that something else would be coming up."
All spring long, he stayed after his regular training with the Crew to take extra crosses and runs from the left side to make himself more valuable.
"He's continuing to grow as a player," U.S. forward Chris Wondolowski said. "He learned a lot over there in Europe and hopefully can incorporate it over here."