4. Michael Parkhurst
Michael Parkhurst is definitely one of Atlanta’s behind the scenes players. His smart defensive play makes him one of the best defenders in the league, despite his age and lack of physicality. There is a reason he’s Atlanta’s captain.
Unfortunately, Parkhurst will be a player to watch for less than ideal reasons. Teammate Leandro Gonzalez Pirez fell on Parkhurst’s ankle at the end of Thursday night’s match against Red Bulls and Parkhurst was subbed off immediately. Parkhurst was not seen training with the team on Monday morning.
If Parkhurst does play, (which he says he will) then the hope will be that he can have his usual influence over the game. Aside from making smart tackles and defensive plays, he is a big part of organizing the back line. All eyes will be on Parkhurst to see if his injury has any effect on the way he plays.
Also of note: Parkhurst has already appeared in four MLS Cup Finals and lost all four. Hopefully, the fifth time is the charm.