Just two months stand between tonight's United States-Mexico friendly in Glendale, Ariz. and June 2, when Jürgen Klinsmann names his final 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. For the Crew's Michael Parkhurst, the clash with El Tri will be key in securing a spot on Klinsmann's side headed to Brazil.
Of Parkhurst's 24 caps with the National Team so far, 15 have come over the past two years under Klinsmann. Parkhurst now has a better shot than ever to make the final 23-player list with increased playing time on the club level since signing with the Crew in January. The struggle to earn minutes at Augsburg in Germany was a motivating factor in Parkhurst's return to MLS.
"First and foremost, I needed playing time," the defender said upon signing with the Crew. "I struggled to get First Team playing time in the last 12 months [at Augsburg] going into a the World Cup.
"My first choice as to come back to the States and find a team there. Columbus worked out."
While the Crew Captain has anchored the Black & Gold backline from central defense, his versatility to play at rightback, centerback and leftback could set Parkhurst apart from others competing for a place in Brazil. Pakrhurst helped shut down the Mexico attack at rightback during the second half in the United States' FIFA World Cup Qualifier on September 10 at Crew Stadium. More recently, with his options limited, Klinsmann tested Pakrhurst with a 90 minutes at leftback in the National Team's 2-0 win against South Korea in January.
It's been so far, so good during Parkhurst's brief time with the Crew. His new club is 3-0-0 for the first time in franchise history and has only conceded two goals in 270 minutes, thanks in-part to Parkhurst's leadership in defense.
Can Parkhurst carry over the success to the National Team? Find out when the U.S. and Mexico kick-off from the University of Phoenix Stadium tonight at 11:00 ET on ESPN.