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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

United States January camps can be unfair to some MLS players - Feilhaber

Max and Herc preview crucial qualifiers for the U.S., break down the latest MLS action and chat with Benny Feilhaber.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber believes the United States' January training camps can put some MLS players at a disadvantage during the crucial evaluation period.

Feilhaber, 32, has played in MLS since 2011 and is a veteran of the annual camps. He was one of the 32 players called to Bruce Arena's most recent edition earlier this year but was not included in the U.S. squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.

"The one thing people have to realize about January camp is that most of the players are MLS, and every player that's in MLS is in the offseason," Feilhaber told ESPN. "It's in the preseason off season ... and it's a very different look at each player than when you look at each of those players in midseason form.

"So there's some guys that one of there strengths is their fitness. So maybe they don't lose as much fitness during the off season, and some players, some of their weaknesses are their fitness and maybe they lose more than some other players and so I think as much as it's very important to look at what players can bring in every game, whether it be, whether it's January camp, or whether it's the middle of the year, I think you have to, you have to kind of see it for what it is.

Benny Feilhaber
Benny Feilhaber was not included in Bruce Arena's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

"And I think to only value a player based on the last four January camps or whatever it is, or for each and every player I think it's a little unfair. It has to be you know more of the entirety of their careers."

The former Hamburg and Derby County man is convinced, however, that Arena's familiarity with the league and its players ensures MLS's U.S. hopefuls will get a fair evaluation throughout the season.

"Well I'll say this. I think Bruce has done a fantastic job with just like the understanding of what a January camp entails, and he knows everybody in MLS," Feilhaber said.

"I mean he's seen everybody in MLS, in the beginning of the season, at the end of the season, the middle of the season, the playoffs, so he's well aware of what guys can bring in when they're at their best."

And regarding his own chances, Feilhaber added: "You know having said that I think it's just about, for myself, it's just about playing well at the level, ya know at Sporting Kansas City, at the MLS level, during the regular season.

"I think you look at some of the selections that Bruce made, and a guy like Kellen Acosta, he was in camp for I think maybe a week, about a week before he had to you know leave because he, I think he injured his ankle, and so he didn't get to see him too much in January camp but Kellen's had a wonderful start to the season, he's playing very well for Dallas in Champions League, in MLS, so he was hearing that call up.

"And I think that's something that Bruce, you'll see a lot of Bruce in the next few months, whoever's playing well with their club team is gonna be given an opportunity, and so I think that's the path I need to take as well."

The United States will host Honduras on March 24, before wrapping up the international break in Panama four days later.

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