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Michael Parkhurst returns to find MLS better, deeper

Michael Parkhurst, Davy Arnaud

Columbus Crew defender Michael Parkhurst (4) and D.C. United midfielder Davy Arnaud, right, look for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game, Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Washington. Columbus won 3-0. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


Columbus Crew and USMNT defender has returned from six seasons abroad to find a Major League Soccer much better than when he left it for Denmark in 2008.

The first 134 matches of his professional career came with the New England Revolution before Parkhurst moved to Denmark, spending 2008-12 with Nordsjælland, then moving on for parts of two seasons in the Bundesliga with FC Augsburg.

He expected to find a stronger product upon his return to MLS, and the league appears to be exceeding those expectations according to

“The biggest way you can tell that right off the bat is training,” he said. “When I was in the league prior, the level of training really dropped off after the first 13, 14 guys maybe. Here, I think now the level now isn’t dropping off.

“You’ve got 25 guys, 26 guys all battling to get into the 18. That just wasn’t the case when I was here prior.”

We consistently read of Yanks overseas hearing about the improved reputation of MLS, but it’s always encouraging to hear the approval of someone returnin from abroad (and, yes, I realize he’s not going to say, “Wow. League is terrrrrrrrrrrrible” to anyone in the press). As Parkhurst presses for a spot in the 2014 World Cup, it’s good to know he’s not disappointed at the preparation he’ll be receiving.

Columbus is 1-0 and has a bye this week before facing Philadelphia at Crew Stadium on March 22.

Follow @nicholasmendola