Crew SC defender Michael Parkhurst previously captured the Xbox Fair Play Award in 2007 and 2008 with New England, and he again has a strong case after his return to MLS in 2014.
In more than 13,000 regular-season minutes in his career, Parkhurst has never been issued a red card. That trend continued this campaign. Let's take a look at the three finalists according to MLS' criteria of things like fouls committed, cards received and playing time.
|Player||Minutes||Yellow Cards||Red Cards||Penalties Conceded||Fouls Conceded||Tackles||Tackles Won|
The lone yellow card on Parkhurst's resume this season might stick out when evaluating the three, but to me, it's a blip on the radar considering the total body of work. Why? Position.
As a defender, Parkhurst is frequently tasked with more responsibility involving activity that might lead to fouls or bookings. He's asked to frequently play against someone who has the ball, certainly moreso than Shipp, an attacker, and to a lesser extent, Nagbe, a midfielder.
You can see that shining through in his statistics: he's attempted and won more tackles than both of his rivals in this race. He's conceded two fewer fouls than Nagbe despite the positional difference. He's conceded zero penalties, like both Nagbe and Shipp, but from a position far more apt to doing so.
Not only that, he's accumulated these numbers and avoided more fouls or bookings while playing 125 more minutes than Nagbe and 460 more minutes than Shipp.
Whether he earns the award for the third time or not, having a defender like Parkhurst is a huge advantage for a club: steady, reliable and fair.