Atlanta United captain Michael Parkhurst suffered a dislocated shoulder in stoppage time of his team’s 1-0 win against New England on Saturday in the MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
He left the stadium in an ambulance. Manager Frank de Boer said in his experience, Parkhurst likely will miss at least two weeks, which means the 35-year-old may have played his final game. He announced a few weeks ago that he is retiring at season’s end.
“I said it when he (announced his retirement), when you look out on the field and he is there, you feel better about how the game is going to go, at least I do, and I am sure the other guys do too,” Jeff Larentowicz said. “He was playing so well, so hopefully he is OK, but for 89 minutes, I thought he was outstanding.”
The injury occurred when Parkhurst collided with New England’s Cristian Penilla. Parkhurst immediately fell to the ground holding his left shoulder. Trainers were unable to put Parkhurst’s shoulder back into its socket. He has dealt with a poor shoulder for several years. It’s not clear if it previously was his left or right shoulder.
“He was in a lot of pain,” de Boer said.
Parkhurst was starting in place of the injured Miles Robinson, who is recovering from a hamstring strain. It seems likely that those two players will miss Thursday’s second-round game, leaving de Boer with just three healthy true centerbacks. The team typically plays a three-man backline.
“We have to think about how we are going to solve this,” de Boer said.
Atlanta United will player either the New York Red Bulls or Philadelphia on Thursday night in the next round at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
De Boer said he typically decides the formation for the next game 3-4 days ahead of time after scouting the opponent and conversing with his players to find out what they are comfortable with. Atlanta United started with three centerbacks against New England before switching to a four-man back line around the 65th minute.
“It’s good that a team can play different kind of systems because it gives the opponent something to think about, to worry about,” de Boer said.
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