New England Soccer Today

Ex-Rev Feilhaber Back in NT Fold

Photo credit: Fox Soccer

Five years. 60 months. 1,839 days, to be precise. No matter how you slice it, there’s no debate Benny Feilhaber has waited quite a while for his 44th cap with the United States National Team.

The playmaker’s last appearance came on Jan. 21, 2012 in a 1-0 win over Venezuela. Since then, the U.S. has played in a World Cup and a Copa America, as well as two Gold Cups and, oh yeah, weathered a high-profile coaching change.

But all that couldn’t have mattered less to the 32-year-old midfielder, who finally returned to the pitch for the U.S. in Friday’s friendly against Jamaica in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“It felt amazing,” Feilhaber told the media after the match. “I think it was a wonderful crowd. I think our team put in a good performance in a much-needed victory and it was exciting to be a part of it: to be a part of the goal, be a part of the starting XI, and it was something that I’ve dreamed of for a long time.”

He was forced to dream, of course, due in large part to former coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s curious unwillingness to call up the former New England Revolution midfielder.

After a pair of underwhelming seasons in New England, Feilhaber was traded to Sporting Kansas City, where rediscovered the form that made him a National Team regular during the mid-2000s.

But that seemed to matter little to Klinsmann, who routinely called others despite Feilhaber’s impact on a club that won an MLS Cup as well as an Open Cup since his arrival.

Last November, Klinsmann was fired in the wake of two disappointing performances in World Cup Qualifying. Bruce Arena, who held the post from 2000-06, returned to the helm, and when he called together his first camp, Feilhaber was among the group.

Friday’s performance proved Feilhaber no doubt deserved to be back in the National Team fold. In the midst of a scoreless match, Feilhaber positioned himself in a vulnerable part of Jamaica’s defense to collect a pass from Dax McCarty. From there, he ran at goal then found an open Jordan Morris on his right, where the Sounders man promptly buried the deciding goal.

“Dax got the ball with a little bit of space — I could tell he was looking at me and kind of wanted me to move into space where I could find the ball,” Feilhaber said. “I was kind of hidden a little bit behind their defensive midfielder, and so I was trying to open up space for him.”

While Friday’s match – which featured Feilhaber’s first National Team assist since 2007 – may have marked the end of January camp for the U.S., the creative midfielder is already looking ahead with a renewed sense of optimism.

“Hopefully, it leads to a good start of the MLS season with Sporting Kansas City,” Feilhaber said. “I‘d love to be back here in March with the National Team.”

After the match, Feilhaber took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the chance to sport the U.S. jersey, a development a half-decade in the making.

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