The talent drain from MLS to Scandinavia continued today when New England Revolution defender and fringe U.S. National Team player Michael Parkhurst signed a deal with Danish club FCNordsjaelland . This is nothing new to the Revolution, who in recent years have seen Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan move to Europe. Revs fans have to wonder when, if ever, Taylor Twellman or Shalrie Joseph move to greener pastures.
The Scandinavian leagues seem to be the go-to place for young Americans trying to make it in Europe. Parkhurst will become the sixth American in the Danish SAS Ligaen, joining Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland), Jeremiah White (Aarhus), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Lee Nguyen (Randers) and Tally Hall (Esbjerg).
My biggest question, probably can't be answered. It might be heresy to the American soccer snobs, but exactly how much better is the Danish League to MLS? FCNordsjaelland was ninth in the league and knocked out by Manchester City before the Group Stage of the UEFA Cup. The league does place one team in the UEFA Champions League. According to UEFA, the Danish league is currently the 16th best in Europe, snuggled between the Belgium league (home to Oguchi Onyewu) and the Bulgarian league (home to a bunch of Bulgarians). My thought is just because it's Europe doesn't mean it's the best soccer ever. The Premier League, La Liga, Serie A? Yes. Those are big-time, especially if it's a club in the Champions League. Otherwise, from a playing standpoint, it could be a lateral move.
From Parkhurst's perspective, you can't fault him for wanting to go to Europe. Plus he will likely get a pay raise and the chance to play some different teams can't hurt either. Playing in Europe might even increase his stature in the National Team set-up with coach Bob Bradley.
For MLS, move like this aren't good. They lose the 2007 league Defender of the Year for nothing. Then again, under the league set-up they can bring in another player -- for less money -- and plug him in. The public knows the name David Beckham, or Blanco, or Donovan, or a couple other players. Everybody else seems expendable and replaceable.
Bottom line, the league has made a lot of strides in every capacity. Yet letting a American player walk away for nothing shows MLS still has a long way to go to make it an attractice place to play for the rank and file.