Can Feilhaber, Buddle regain form in Klinsmann's camp?
TORRANCE, Calif. — Benny Feilhaber and Edson Buddle were part of the US team at the 2010 World Cup, but not much has been heard from them since internationally, and both are looking to parlay the national team's camp in Southern California into pronounced roles under Jurgen Klinsmann.
Feilhaber was part of last year's January camp, his first with the US since 2010, but he hasn't helped his cause the past two seasons with the New England Revolution. Buddle played in last February's game in Italy before his 2012 campaign with the LA Galaxy was disrupted repeatedly by injury.
Both have moved on to new clubs — Feilhaber to Sporting Kansas City and Buddle to the Colorado Rapids — and realize that they need to impress in Major League Soccer if they want to take part in this year's qualifiers and next year's World Cup in Brazil.
Feilhaber, 27, is a creative midfielder who can play in the middle or, as for previous US coach Bob Bradley, on the left flank, and he's hoping a change of scenery will prod him to “prove to Jurgen that I'm a trustworthy player” in games that count.
“I've been there," he said. "I know what it takes, and I know I'm capable of performing at that level. That makes me hungrier to prove that to Jurgen, because he's been here for a year and a half. I haven't been able to prove that to him yet, but I know I have that. ...
“Jurgen watched the World Cup. He knows I played in the World Cup," Feilhaber added. "He saw what I did well and what I didn't, and I haven't been at that level, I think, since the World Cup. I haven't played at that level with New England, and maybe that's one of the reasons I haven't been with the A team. Maybe he's waiting for me to get back to that level, and I think I'm giving myself the best opportunity now with Kansas City.”
Klinsmann said he wants “to see from Benny is that he takes far more responsibilities. that he steps it up and becomes influential in games. ... We want him to step it up [with Kansas City]. We want him to become a leader there.
"At the end of the day, he makes his own calls," Klinsmann added. "He writes his own story.”
If Feilhaber can do so, it will climax in his native Brazil.
“I know I'm in a really good position now to play the best soccer I've played in maybe my whole career and potentially sneak my way back into the national team,” he said. “It's obviously a goal to be back in the World Cup team and play in front of my family in Brazil. That would be something special, but that's still a long ways away.”
Buddle, 31, is a big striker who scores in bunches, as in 2010, when he netted 17 (plus two in the playoffs) for the Galaxy before heading to Germany for a year. He returned to LA last year but saw limited time because of various ailments, the most serious requiring midseason knee surgery.
He says his right knee is not as strong as his left and his working to “get as close to 100 percent as possible” during a call-up that he “wasn't expecting, not at all.”
“Every time I step on the field, there's always something to prove,” Buddle said. “I don't feel like anything I've done in the past can help0 me going forward, except for my experience and how I prepare myself. I don't go out with an attitude that I'm owed anything on what I've done in the past.”
Klinsmann would like to see the Buddle of old.
“He came back from Europe, where things didn't work out the way he thought they would work out,” Klinsmann said. “He fights his way back. Now he's healthy and fit again. We want to see where is that guy.”