Michael Parkhurst has earned a reputation of squeaky clean, technical defending. With Columbus Crew SC declining to appeal Saturday's decision, Parkhurst will now earn his first MLS league red card.
Digging deeper into the stats shows just how clean Parkhurst plays in one of the most physical positions on the field. It's rare to see a player succeed by positioning and anticipation, rather than having to foul his opposing marker. Looking back at the last six players to win the MLS Defender of the Year Award shows how rare this is.
Parkhurst has played over 14,000 minutes in MLS league play. He's picked up 51 fouls, four yellow cards, and now a single red card. That is either the lowest, or tied for the lowest totals in each of those categories. He averages an unheard of foul every 277 minutes of play. That is one foul every three games. Chad Marshall, not a dirty player by any stretch, averages a foul every 104 minutes, the same average as Omar Gonzalez.
Parkhurst plays clean while being one of the best defenders in the league. He won his Defender of the Year award just before he moved overseas to play for Nordsjælland and Augsburg. He returned to MLS and landed in Columbus before the 2014 season and picked up where he left off, earning a finalist nomination for Defender of the Year last season.
That's why the Black & Gold faithful are especially shocked at Parkhurst's red card. His reputation for defending by the book is well earned. Even when his red card was debatable. It appears that the ball apparently played his arm rather than him playing it to deny the goal scoring opportunity. Either way, he'll serve his first suspension on Wednesday evening before returning to the lineup on Saturday.