When Michael Parkhurst returned from USMNT camp in time to enter Saturday's match as a substitute for the Columbus Crew, it was clear that the defender was still feeling his cut from the National Team squad.
But after a standing ovation from the Crew Stadium crowd and a lighthearted locker room after the win over the Chicago Fire, Parkhurst said he's placated by the feeling that the cut was an inevitability.
“I don't think there's anything I could have done more,” Parkhurst told reporters after the match. “I don't think there was anything negative that was on my part that made [U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann] not choose me. I just think his mind was set up even before the camp was started. So that makes it a little easier for me to swallow, to know that I couldn't have done anything else.”
Parkhurst said he and other USMNT teammates were blindsided by the roster decisions, which made it more difficult at the time.
“It's tough, we didn't know that the cuts were coming that day, so [there were] no expectations there,” he said. “It's difficult, of course. That was the ultimate dream. But you have to be a professional, and now my sole focus is the Crew.”
And while Parkhurst is back with the Crew in May rather than June, he said he wanted to “get back to business” as quickly as possible, and to take his mind off of the national team by refocusing on the Crew.
“It's nice to be back home,” he said. “It's a few weeks earlier than I anticipated or I wanted, but it's really good to be home. It was a really nice ovation when I came on the field. I heard everybody, and I was really appreciative of that, the support that everyone has given me here.”
Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said that he knew Parkhurst wanted to start Saturday's match, but after a grueling week of training and travel with the National Team, he played it safe, sitting the defender until the 87th minute.
“He had a tough session on Thursday followed by a weight session followed by a red-eye across the country,” Berhalter said after the match. “It was too much for him. He wanted to play, but I didn't think it was worth the risk of an injury after all that travel and training.”
But Berhalter said it was important to get him that substitution to remind him how the Crew Stadium faithful feel about him, and where their support lies.
“I think the fans were spectacular to give him that ovation and really cheer him on,” Berhalter said. “He's been through a lot these last couple of days, and it's nice for him to feel that everyone supports him. The team, the fans and the community support him.”