New England Soccer Today

Feilhaber Working on Fitness

Benny Feilhaber put in a solid performance off the bench in a losing effort. (Photo: Chris Aduama/aduama.com)

HARRISON, N.J. – There may have been a few puzzled looks when the Revolution’s starting lineup against the Red Bulls failed to include Benny Feilhaber.

Although the 27-year-old midfielder missed three games before coming on for the final half hour two weeks ago in D.C., many believed that he’d be a sure-fire start on Saturday.

Instead, Feilhaber came on as a second half sub, and after the game, admitted that he wasn’t yet at full fitness for the conference clash at Red Bull Arena.

“I’m still getting my fitness back and 45 minute is going to do wonders for it,” Feilhaber said. “I don’t think I’m 90 minutes fit yet, but I can definitely give a good portion of the game.”

While he may not have been at full fitness, the internationally-seasoned veteran certainly didn’t look any worse for wear in the second half.

As the hour mark approached, Feilhaber played a smart ball from the middle of the park through to Saer Sene that had “assist” written all over it. But Red Bulls center back Brandon Backlage broke it up with a last-second tackle to thwart the effort.

In the final 15 minutes, Feihaber found two chances to scribble his name on the scoresheet. And each time, he’d watch rookie Ryan Meara get the best of him.

With the Red Bulls pinned inside their own end, Shalrie Joseph played it to the far post, where Feilhaber went undetected and readied himself to bury it at close range. But, when Meara shouted “Keeper!”, Feilhaber miscalculated where the Red Bulls’ goalkeeper was lurking and nodded it softly on frame believing he had an open net to shoot at.

“He tricked me”, Feilhaber said, with a laugh. “I thought he was definitely coming out, I didn’t have a look, and I tried to head it past him, (but) he stayed in his goal.”

Feilhaber was afforded a final chance to equalize in the 88th minute when he played a short cross to Lee Nguyen, who played it right back. From the left, Feilhaber raced parallel to net and uncorked a shot that pounded Meara’s mitts and away from danger.

“The shot you really can’t do too much about,” Feilhaber said. “Just rip it at the goal (and) try to get it past the goalie. He made a good save, it was kind of right at him.”

When it was all said and done, the outside midfielder registered nearly twice as many successful passes (23) as Kelyn Rowe (13), who conceded his spot to Feilhaber at the half. And even though it he sharpened his team’s attack, Feilhaber didn’t exactly give his performance a five-star rating.

“A little up and down – inconsistent,” Feilhaber said. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t get any points out of this game.”

Meanwhile, there’s little doubt that the dynamic midfielder is ready to get some more minutes in the team’s next two games.

“We have another game Wednesday and another one on Saturday,” Feilhaber said. “So I should be getting my legs again, getting 90 minutes again. I always want to play. I think I have enough minutes to give.”

6 Comments

  1. rick sewall

    May 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Benny is a dangerous player, but he tends to take too many touches, as the commentators say, but the fact is that he dribbles too much. Too often he is like a ten year old, dribbling until he loses the ball. He rarely gives a one touch pass. This type of play makes teammates unhappy. Given these problems, and considering his unquestionably valuable qualities, I think he should pair with Sene up front. Moreno has to get his butt moving. He is beginning to remind me of that bust of a forward from Argentina we had last year, whose name I forget.

  2. GreyGhostX

    May 1, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Honestly, I don’t think Benny plays with enough heart. I think his willingness to get frustrated and sulky get in the way of his natural skills.

  3. rick sewall

    May 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

    GreyGhost, I absolutely agree with you. I saw this problem last year. It not only hurts his performance, it has a negative effect on the whole team. You would think that a player of his calibre, on the national team and all, would not behave this way. I hope Heaps sees this and tries to do something about it.

  4. Brian O'Connell

    May 1, 2012 at 11:28 am

    @Rick, I agree on the point that Benny has the tendency to take too many touches – especially once he gets into the attacking third. To his credit, I think he’s cut down on that practice a bit this season. Has it been completely eliminated? Not quite. That said, if Heaps were utilize him as a #10, it could potentially solve that particular issue. Personally, I think it’s a better fit for him, rather than sending him out on the wing, where I think the amount of space he’s given can tempt him to do too much.
    @GreyGhost – No question – Benny is his own worst enemy. His effectiveness is almost entirely predicated on his frustration level – not just with his own play, but with his teammates. If things are going well, he plays up to the level that’s warranted him a spot on a WC roster. But when things are going badly, his play tends to mimic his surroundings. He has remarkable talent, no doubt, but I’m not entirely sure how malleable his on-field temperament is at the moment.

  5. rick sewall

    May 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Brian, nice to see a professional soccer commentator, and someone who is a lot closer to the Revs than both me and,probably,GreyGhost [{the nickname, by the way, of Kemal Ataturk,arguably the number one person of the 20th century] agree with what we say,at least basically. I’m commentating solely on what I see on tv. You’ve enhanced my confidence. I worry about Sharlie. He is no longer a spring chicken.

  6. Chris B

    May 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I think the midfield is this team’s best asset and its worst enemy. We have great midfielders but we are forced to play them out of position. A solution could be to move Shalrie to CB, but he probably won’t be consistently reliable back there. We also have no natural wingers (Lee being the closest) I think White and Purdie cold be more of the wingmen role. Where they show great speed and ability down the wings and can score/cross/assist. It is good to have a LB like Tierney who can cross but we need real wingers. Obviously White/Pudrie and the Gambians are behind in the depth chart to Benny, Nguyen, Rowe and Clyde (deservedly so). I will say it is okay to have our outside mids play more centrally (teams like Man City and AC Milan come to mind) but right now it just isn’t working.

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