Parkhurst joins the ranks of returnees

[MLS TRANSACTIONS] Like a few USA teammates, Michael Parkhurst has chosen MLS as the next, and possibly last, phase of his pro career. The former MLS Rookie of the Year (2005) and Defender of the Year (2007) has ended a sojourn in Europe by agreeing to play with Columbus, which gave up its first-round 2014 SuperDraft pick -- the No. 4 selection overall -- and allocation money to obtain his rights from New England, for which he played four seasons.

Parkhurst, 29, left MLS as a free agent after the 2008 season and under league rules New England retained his rights within MLS indefinitely by tendering him an offer to re-sign. Trading his rights made sense, according to Revs general manager Mike Burns.

“We certainly value Michael as a player having had him with us six seasons ago, but this trade provided us too much to pass up,” Burns said in a statement. “This deal provides us with a significant amount of flexibility, both for our salary cap and our roster, and allows us to make additional moves to continue improving our roster.”

He joins a Crew team being rebuilt by new head coach Gregg Berhalter, who can certainly use the club and international experience Parkhurst has gained while playing more than 100 games in Europe and earning 23 caps.

“He is an elite player who will have an immediate impact both on and off the field,” said Berhalter. “Michael’s success in Major League Soccer, combined with his proven experience in Europe and with the U.S. men’s national team, make him a valuable piece for our team.”

Parkhurst started off in Europe with Danish club Nordsjaelland and after five solid seasons left on a free transfer to FC Augsburg, where his career stalled. He made just two league appearances after joining the German club in December 2012, and had been shopping for a new club the past few months. Sporting director Stefan Reuter said the club agreed to terminate his contract, which had 18 months remaining, by mutual consent.

Despite his struggles at Augsburg, Parkhurst has played for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann somewhat regularly. His 14 appearances the past two years include starts at right back in five of the six 2013 Gold Cup matches and an impressive showing as a second-half sub in the 2-0 defeat of Mexico Sept. 10 that clinched a World Cup spot.

He is the fourth U.S. international to leave Europe for MLS in the past six months. Defender Clarence Goodson and attacker Clint Dempsey made the move last summer, and midfielder Michael Bradley’s transfer to Toronto FC from Italian club Roma was finalized last week.

Other awards:
Coach of the Year (Men's Soccer): Jupp Heynckes, retired Bayern Munich coach.
Coach of the Year (Women's Soccer): Silvia Neid, German national team coach.
FIFA/FIFPro World XI: Neuer, Lahm, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Sergio Ramos, Iniesta, Ribery, Xavi, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Messi.
Puskas Award (best goal): Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
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