The USA international right back has been frozen out with FC Augsburg, and knows he needs to find playing time if wants to be in Brazil next summer.
One day, Michael Parkhurst is celebrating World Cup qualification for the United States national team. The next, he is again contemplating life on the far reaches of Augsburg's first team.
His struggle at the Bundesliga outfit would have offered Parkhurst plenty of food for thought on the plane back to Germany, not the least because his fortunes at the club level will become increasingly important as the 2014 World Cup approaches.
"It is frustrating, of course. I'm not even really part of the team on game day," the versatile defender told Goal about life back at Augsburg. "I've never gone through this in my career. I'm just battling through, training my hardest day-in, day-out. It's the trainer's decision, and right now he's going against me.
"It is what it is. All I can do is work hard at training and if things don’t change I'll obviously look for a solution in January."
Parkhurst had a sparkling 45-minute cameo at right back in the USA's 2-0 win over Mexico earlier this month which, combined with a 2-2 draw between Honduras and Panama, confirmed the USA's place at the 2014 World Cup. The 29-year-old's performance, including a key role in his team's second goal, belied his lack of first-team football with Augsburg.
He knows, however, that it hardly guarantees him a spot in Brazil come next June.
"I just need to be a good professional right now and keep myself at the highest fitness level possible so I'm ready for what's next, whether that be a breakthrough here or whether it's a new club in January," Parkhurst said. "I want to stay as fit as possible, in case the call-ups come in October and November from the national team. I want to be ready for those things."
Parkhurst joined Augsburg in January, having been an important player for Danish club FC Nordsjaelland since arriving late in 2009. His Augsburg career has consisted of just two matches, the last of which came in February during the 2012-13 campaign. The closest he has come to playing since was a spot on the bench in August's DFB-Pokal match. In front of him at Augsburg - sitting a credible sixth place in the Bundesliga table - is club captain and Netherlands international right back Paul Verhaegh.
Parkhurst knows Augsburg is happy to let him leave, and he came close before the transfer window slammed shut earlier this month. Unfortunately, 1860 Munich of the 2. Bundesliga could not find the funds to sign Parkhurst as the deadline approached. Danish team Brondby made a firm loan offer, but uprooting his young family once again to join a troubled club did not appeal to the 2007 MLS Defender of the Year. Lazio also expressed late interest, but "said they needed more time and they were going to keep an eye on me," according to Parkhurst.
Parkhurst continues to train with the first team but gets most of the feedback from trainer Markus Weinzierl and manager Stefan Reuter via U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. "It's a third-person type of thing [more than] I've actually had conversations with the trainer or the manager here," Parkhurst said.
Thus, frustration is perhaps the overriding emotion for Parkhurst. Cut off, but not cut adrift. Good enough for country, yet deemed not for club.
"I feel fit and I feel good, so it's good that Jürgen still has that confidence," he said.
It means the goal in January is simple: find a club, and get playing time.
"Because of the instability at right back, I feel like if I was playing full-time at a club somewhere that I could be the starter for the national team," Parkhurst said. "Of course, that's the dream. That's what you want to be. So it's really frustrating of course right now. That's there for the taking.
"Of course, Brad [Evans, a fellow right back contender] has done very well, but I think I'm right there as well. In the end, I'm lucky I've gotten the opportunity this half-season that I have gotten… If I move in January, I'll still have four or five months to prove myself and then get back into the mix there with the national team."
After the win over Mexico, Parkhurst said the USA's festivities were kept on ice while the result of the latter qualifier was still being decided. "There was no celebrating until it was 100 percent sure. When that final whistle blew, that's when the champagne and the beers came out and we started celebrating," he said.
But thoughts - and not just those of Parkhurst - have already turned to Brazil.
"Actually being part of the team and getting in some games to help the team qualify for the World Cup is a great feeling," he said. "Of course there is changes between now and the World Cup, and that's the next big goal - to be a part of that team, to help the team, to have a World Cup we've never had before.
"We're all confident we can do some things in Brazil, and we all want to be part of that team."