Anxious night ends with new dawn for Feilhaber
When New England midfielder Benny Feilhaber went to sleep in Denmark on Tuesday night, he still didn't know for certain where he would start his MLS career.
The allocation process offered a few anxious moments for the 26-year-old US international as it unfolded on Tuesday, but Feilhaber retired for the evening fairly convinced that he would land in New England after Chivas USA and Philadelphia passed up the opportunity to secure his services earlier in the day.
By the time Wednesday morning dawned in Scandinavia, Feilhaber finally received word that he would join the Revolution.
“When I woke up this morning, I had a text from my agent, Lyle [Yorks], telling me it was New England,” Feilhaber said during a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. “I was excited with how everything went, but it was pretty nerve-wracking. I hope I don't have to go through something that crazy again, but, in the end, it's what I wanted and I'm really happy to come to New England now.”
Although there were a few tense moments for Feilhaber, the surprising situation unfolded perfectly for the Revolution. New England vice president of player personnel Michael Burns didn't believe his side would have the chance to pluck Feilhaber out of the allocation process, but Feilhaber’s sudden availability handed the Revs a rare opportunity to claim a potentially vital piece for their squad.
“It was a strange night, to say the least, probably first and foremost for Benny because he's the one that wasn't sure where he was going,” Burns said.
“Speaking frankly, there's no way at three [in the allocation order] that we thought he was going to be available. The five o'clock deadline came and went and we didn't hear anything. All of a sudden, we got a phone call from the league that said both Chivas USA and Philly had passed.
“We were surprised, to say the least,” he added. “We just felt like it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up to acquire Benny in the allocation process. It doesn't happen that often, so we selected him.”
The entire transfer move – from initial talks to Revolution midfielder – unfolded quickly for Feilhaber. His agent entered discussions with MLS last week, but Feilhaber thought he'd have to wait until the summer to move from AGF Aarhus to MLS given the proximity of Friday's transfer deadline.
Instead of waiting until the summer, Feilhaber booked his move to the US immediately after MLS quickly agreed to a transfer fee with the Danish second-division side and offered a suitable contract.
Although the past few days proved tumultuous for Feilhaber as he sorted out his future with his old club and worked his way through the allocation process to discover his new team, he remains convinced that he has picked the right time to employ his European experience to establish himself as a key figure in MLS.
“I'm ready to bring that [experience] back to MLS,” Feilhaber said. “I know MLS has been growing for 10 or 15 years now and it's at a point now where it is a very competitive level of football. I think the league will be able to do something for me that Europe hasn't been able to do.
"In Aarhus, I've become a player that plays every week and I hope to continue that in MLS,” he said. “At the same time, I hope to help MLS with my experience in Europe as well.”