Atlanta United team captain Michael Parkhurst presents owner Arthur Blank the MLS Cup after a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Dec 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta United, Parkhurst agree to new contract

The Captain is coming back.

Atlanta United on Saturday announced it has re-signed Michael Parkhurst, the captain of last season’s MLS Cup winning team, to a new contract. 

A day after defeating Portland 2-0 to win the title at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 8, the club announced that while it had declined the option on Parkhurst’s contract, it was negotiating to bring him back.

Parkhurst, 34, was named the team’s captain before its inaugural 2017 season. The MLS veteran has been indispensable with 70 starts in two seasons, helping to solidify one of the league’s best defenses. The team has posted two of the greatest goal differences in league history the past two seasons thanks to a powerful offense and stingy defense.

Parkhurst finished fourth in the league in clearances (154) and third in passing accuracy (87.7 percent) among defenders.

“Michael has played an important role for our team over the past two seasons and we’re pleased to have re-signed him,” Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement from the team. “Since joining the club, he has served as an excellent captain and his experience and leadership is invaluable for our group.” 

Parkhurst finished third in MLS Defender of the Year voting last season and was an All-Star for the second consecutive season. In the playoffs, he and centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez helped the Five Stripes post three shutouts in five games.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Parkhurst had a guaranteed salary of $340,008 last season and, because of terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the MLS Players Association, can’t make more than $391,000 in the 2019 season.

Parkhurst’s return will add experience and depth for an upcoming season that will include participation in the CONCACAF Champions League, as well as the pursuit of the Supporters’ Shield, U.S. Open Cup and another league title.

The team’s roster at centerback includes Parkhurst, Gonzalez Pirez, Miles Robinson, Jeff Larentowicz, who also can play as a defensive midfielder, and Franco Escobar, who can also play as a fullback.

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