Benny Feilhaber 'at peace' with USMNT exile status under Jurgen Klinsmann
CARSON, California -- Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber says he is at peace with the strong likelihood that he'll never feature in the U.S. national team under Jurgen Klinsmann.
Feilhaber, 31, is coming off the best season of his career, tallying 10 goals and 15 assists for a Sporting KC side that claimed the U.S. Open Cup. It was enough to earn the Rio de Janeiro native a spot on the MLS Best XI.
Had Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco not had an otherworldly season, Feilhaber might have gotten more consideration for MLS MVP. As it was he finished third in the voting behind Giovinco and the Columbus Crew's Kei Kamara. In the three seasons that he's spent in Kansas City, Feilhaber has tallied a total of 17 goals and 27 assists in 96 league and playoff appearances.
"It's something that definitely frustrated me...probably two to three years ago, maybe even less than two to three years ago," said Feilhaber with regard to his national team exile.
"It's not going to happen [and] this last season was my best, full comprehensive season as a professional. I'm playing the best soccer I have in my career. If I'm not getting an opportunity with the national team now then I need to accept that it's not going to happen. At least not under Jurgen Klinsmann."
Feilhaber has made 41 appearances with the U.S. national team, scoring two goals including a memorable game-winner against Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup final. He was also part of the U.S. roster at the 2010 World Cup.
His last appearance for the Americans came in February of 2014 when he logged 30 minutes as a substitute against Korea Republic.
"Yeah, I'm at peace with that," he said. "Is it to some extent frustrating? Yeah, but I think it was more frustrating in the past. I think now it's more that I'm committed to my club team. That's what I'm really involved with now. I'm trying to win trophies for Kansas City, and continue to play at the level that I know I can play."
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Feilhaber did take time to highlight the influence of SKC manager Peter Vermes, who took something of a gamble on Feilhaber following two relatively non-descript seasons in New England. In December of 2012 Vermes sent two draft picks and allocation money to the Revs in exchange for the midfielder. Over time, a player who struggled with his fitness eventually evolved into a consistent, high-level performer.
"Some things have come easy for me in soccer, and some things have come difficult," Feilhaber said. "One thing that was difficult was the fitness aspect of the game.
"I think one of the reasons why I would have good moments in games or have one good game and one bad game, and have the inconsistencies was because of the fitness.
"With the system that we play, with how Peter manages, it was impossible to play, let alone play well, without the fitness."