Commentary: Calm down, Feilhaber fans
Benny Feilhaber netted a hat trick on Wednesday against Skive in the Ekstra Bladet Cup.
Sure, it's an impressive accomplishment any time an American footballer sends a trio past the keeper. But look how Feilhaber scored his strikes: Two tallies came from the penalty spot, while the third – the game-winner of a 6-3 slugfest – was a tap-in on the goalmouth.
READ: Feilhaber nets hat trick
The Brazilian-born midfielder also found the net over the weekend in AGF Aarhus' 1-1 draw with Hobro, but his goal again came from the spot. While it was a well-taken strike, almost anyone can score a penalty.
The point is that the United States international isn't exactly launching lasers from distance.
Instead, he's becoming a vital, spot kick-taking cog on a second-division Danish side. That's not a bad thing, but let's press the old pause button on the "Benny Feilhaber saves the American soccer program" discussion. The World Cup veteran needs to start tallying during the run of play before we go there.
The hype around his sudden goal-scoring prowess has caused people to overlook another development in Feilhaber's game: He is taking free kicks for AGF and delivering dangerous balls. He served up two against Hobro that should have been converted into goals. It's not his fault his teammates can't head the ball into the back of the net. (The first highlight in this clip and then at 1:03.)
Ironically, the American squad – one that scores frequently from dead-ball situations – doesn't have a great ball-striker. Landon Donovan, who takes the majority of the kicks, is streaky. Stuart Holden – now working into the rotation at Bolton – can work magic, but he needs to get on the field for the Stars and Stripes.
If Feilhaber can consistently knock in solid service, he'll make his already strong case for playing time that much stronger.
Finishing from the penalty spot? Good for the ego and the paycheck, but not that impressive. Creating chances from dead-ball situations? Now that's a skill that will get Bob Bradley's attention.