New England Soccer Today

Trading Time?

There’s no escaping it: the Revs have been bad this season. And not just bad in the generic, it’s-not-their-year sense. No, it’s much worse than that. They’ve been historically bad.

As of this morning, they’re last in the league in goals scored (16), next-to-last in goal differential (-11), last in the Eastern Conference, and are on pace to finish with the fewest wins in team history (6), fewest goals scored (29), and are one loss or tie away from breaking the club record for longest winless streak (9).

It’s not for lack of effort, either. Well, at least, not entirely. Some may question the players’ desire during Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Philadelphia, as well as the efforts of a front office that allowed two of its most reliable goalscorers to walk out of the door.

But, that’s neither here nor there. The cold reality is this: The season is more than halfway over, and the Revs are nearly as many points below of a playoff spot (14) as their regular season point total (16).

Since the likelihood of the Revs making the postseason is about as realistic as a Casey Anthony confession, it’s time to start thinking about the future. No, not September and October. But, rather, March and April – of next year.

And in order to give serious contemplation to that future, Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns must focus on what he can do in the present.

Exploring transfer candidates is a start. A high-priced international player (or two) may satiate the masses momentarily. But, let’s not forget that the international market, by and large, has not been the most reliable source of talent for the team.

Keeping that in mind, Burns may want to consider the prospect of pulling off a trade. No, not your standard role-player-for-draft-picks deal. A bold trade. A trade with one of his best players as its centerpiece.

There’s no question that Benny Feilhaber has not been the happiest camper here in New England. Sure, it started off promisingly enough for the World Cup star. That 3-2 win over Sporting K.C.  made a lot of people forget about this team’s shortcomings.

But it wasn’t long before reality set in. Injuries – including a sprained ankle sustained by Feilhaber – and curious tactical decisions decimated the attack. The defense leaked through some pretty soft goals. And all the while, the Revs failed to do one very important thing: win.

Quite expectedly, Feilhaber became visibly frustrated. And not just with the incessant hacking. The losses and poor displays eventually got the best of Benny. As the season progressed, the gifted midfielder began to take out his frustrations on his own teammates.

For stark evidence of Feilhaber’s unfiltered criticism of his own teammates, check out a replay of Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Philadelphia. There he is: yelling at Pat Phelan. Stephen McCarthy. Even Slyde. Events deteriorated so badly that he essentially took it upon himself to get ejected by body checking the trained actor himself, Carlos Ruiz. Exit, stage right, Mr. Feilhaber.

In light of his most recent outburst  – one that had simmered for over an hour prior to his expulsion – it may not be the worst idea in the world to give serious consideration to trading number 22. Not for that reason alone, of course.

His value, despite his volatile temper, is still reasonably high. He’s easily one of the best players on the team. And with so many teams in the playoff hunt – pretty much everyone but New England and Vancouver – it’s not inconceivable that the the Revs could get a package of prospects for their talented midfielder.

Dallas, for example, is stocked with young talent, and could certainly use a midfielder of Feilhaber’s caliber as they march toward the playoffs. Columbus and Houston are two other teams that may view Feilhaber as the missing piece to their respective playoff puzzles as well.

Of course, Burns doesn’t have to trade Feilhaber, or anybody at all, for that matter. But, given the front office’s less than sparkling track record of keeping its players happy, it’s entirely within the realm that a certain central midfielder may ask out of his contract at season’s end. 

Besides, let’s be realistic: Benny Feilhaber is not a part of the Revs long-term future. Whether the Revs trade him or not, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which the team’s second-best midfielder returns next season. Not with the way this team’s built, not with the unhappiness that’s pervading the locker room, and almost certainly not with amount of money ($346,000) the Revs are paying him, especially if  the Revs procure “one or more” designated players this summer.

Feilhaber is, without question, one of the few bright spots on a bad team. You could even say that he’s been their most reliable, save for the ankle injury and that foolish red card on Sunday. But, unlike Shalrie Joseph or Matt Reis, he is not a part of the Revs’ foundation – or its future.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Feilhaber’s signing was not an orchestrated addition, but rather, a gift given to a team that was coming off one of its worst seasons last year. He serendipitously arrived in New England via the allocation process after Chivas USA and Philadelphia declined his services. His signing, comparatively speaking, contained very few complexities.

In the months that have passed since his arrival, it’s obvious that, given the Revs current form, Feilhaber’s time here has seen its course. The creative playmaker didn’t magically cure the much-maligned midfield. In hindsight, it was foolish to think that he – or any single player – could.

There is hope for Revs – just not this season. And with that in mind, Burns may want to give some serious thought to cashing in one of his few bargaining chips before it’s too late.


  1. Josh

    July 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    How are a 36 yearold injury prone Gk and a 32 yearold midfielder who’s only showed any ambition in the Man U game the center piece of our future? Feilhaber may be unhappy, but at least he works his butt off all game, can’t say the same for Joseph. The only game he’s played hard all season was against Man U, coincidence… no he wants out. here is idea, we have 4 Int spots, half the salary cap, and not DPs. Get some players for him to play with. You say the Int market has been poor for us? That’s not a reflection of the players brought in, that’s a reflection of Mike Burns. He brings in the cream of the cr@p of int players and expects the fans to say OMG an international player, we’re awesome now. The scouting policy is a joke, they’ve made no attempt to bring in quality players. The team is full of USL players.. Zach Boggs anyone? Oh and how do you have an offer in for a player and have him “sign with someone else in the final hour”… do your due diligence, this organization in incompitent and apparently so are some of the people who should be holding them accountable.

    • Brian O'Connell

      July 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      I guess the question boils down to this: who would you want the Revs to re-build around? If it’s Benny, then I’d cite Sunday’s disaster as proof that he may not be the ideal candidate to do that. He’s a good player, no doubt, but I don’t think leadership is among is strengths. You can question Shalrie’s work ethic, but it’s hard to imagine Sunday’s game playing out the way it did if Shalrie was on the pitch. Good or bad, Shalrie is this team’s best motivator, not to mention their primary goalscorer. To me, it makes more sense to trade Benny than Shalrie, at least at the moment. Btw, I couldn’t agree more – the Revs international scouting system (or lack thereof) is, by far, their Achilles heel. And, I’ll leave it at that.

    • Sean Donahue

      July 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      I gotta disagree Josh. To me at least it seems Feilhaber has let his frustrations take him out games far too much over the past month. While Joseph’s play may not be up the to caliber we’ve come to expect recently, I’d argue he helped carry the team in the early part of the season when the Revs were having a little success. Still can’t say I’ve seen Feilhaber have nearly the same impact in any game.

  2. Josh

    July 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    If you want to cite his goal scoring and leadership abiltities then keep both and play Shalrie at striker. Build the team around both and bring in another quality midfielder to compliment Benny, a younger version of Dabo would be perfect. Benny is playing too advanced and has no options, Lekic has been dreadful and the wingers seem to stop thier runs because they don’t think they will get a ball through. If you move Shalrie to striker you solve alot of problems and open a spot for another play maker.

  3. Brian O'Connell

    July 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    You’re right – Benny’s too advanced and has no options – which is exactly why he’ll be gone next year. His frustrated footballer persona has emerged far too often for me not to question his desire to stay here. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that if I were a gambling-inclined individual, I’d go all in on Benny not being here next year. So the Revs have two choices: trade him now and get some value, or watch another talented player walk away without anything in return.

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