Feilhaber Finds His Form

Benny Feilhaber notched his first goal and assist of the season on Saturday and helped lift the Revolution to a 2-0 win over Chicago. (Photo: Kari Heistad)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Benny Feilhaber wants the ball at his feet no matter where he is on the field. That much is certain about the Brazilian-born Revolution midfielder who has spent time behind the strikers, at left wing, and in central midfield. He’s gotten plenty of the ball so far this season, he just hadn’t parlayed his chances onto the scoresheet.

That is until last night, when Feilhaber combined with Kelyn Rowe for a goal and an assist to lift the Revolution over the Chicago Fire 2-0.

It was a relief for Feilhaber to notch his first goal and assist of the year, particularly since he, a playmaker, been experiencing an untimely scoreless drought.

“(Tonight) was big for Benny,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps after the game. “I thought that Benny did everything right tonight: he defended when we needed him to defend and when he had his chances to change the game, he did. It was really important he went out there and played that way.

“Benny’s going to drift to the middle no matter where you put him on the (team) sheet. I joke about changing his number to 10 and playing him anywhere we want, but I think that it’s good. Benny forces your coach to make decisions and you love that when you’re a coach – when you have to make sure a guy goes out there and performs when he plays a position when he’s comfortable. And certainly, Benny showed he wants to be in the mix (for a central midfield spot).

Feilhaber admittedly gets more of the ball when he plays in central midfield with Shalrie Joseph. But this season, Clyde Simms has started regularly alongside Joseph, forcing Feilhaber to play on the left flank and work his way into the middle.

But with Simms out injured, Feilhaber has been able to resume his preferred position in the center of the action.

“I haven’t been in (central midfield) in a while,” noted Feilhaber, who named the match MVP. “It’s my most comfortable spot and me and Shalrie have played plenty together with last year and all, so I think we fell into it pretty quickly. I know where he wants to get the ball, he knows where I want to get the ball and he gets me the ball where I want it. It’s really nice playing with him and it didn’t take that much time to get back into it.

Though the Revolution and Chicago entered halftime tied at zero, Feilhaber and Rowe would combine midway through the second half to open the scoring. First, Rowe toe poked a shot into the back of the net from a Feilhaber feed in the 70th minute. Three minutes later, Feilhaber finished off a one-two with Rowe by slotting the ball inside the far post.

It was a pair of combination plays by two former UCLA Bruins that helped give the Revolution their fifth win of the season, though Rowe tips his hat to Feilhaber for both goals.

“Benny’s a great guy and he played me the first ball, so I had to give him another one,” explained Rowe after the game. “He made a great run after I played him the first ball, and I had to give it back to him.”

With the win, the Revolution move into a tie for sixth place with Houston and just two points out of the final playoff spot.

New England has two weeks before their next game, but Feilhaber is hoping that the floodgates stay open when they return from their bye week on Jun. 16.

“It’s great to have a break to go in with these three points, but at the same time you want to keep it going,” finished Feilhaber. “We have to have a good balance in getting our legs back and taking it easy and staying mentally prepared and not getting turned off.”

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About Julian Cardillo

Julian Cardillo is an American sports journalist who has contributed to New England Soccer Today since its inception. He has also written for The Boston Globe, Boston.com, The Advocate, Soccerly, and a number of other outlets. He was a foreign correspondent for Boston.com in 2012, covering AS Roma from Italy. He has contributed to Roma Radio and Yahoo Sports Radio. Julian speaks English, Italian, and French. He has a Politics degree from Brandeis University, where he is currently taking graduate classes. Follow him on twitter @juliancardillo