It took a while for Benny Feilhaber to earn his first chance to impress U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Now that the New England Revolution midfielder has gotten it — he was called up for the January camp and two friendlies against Venezuela (Jan. 21 in Phoenix) and Panama (Jan. 25 in Panama City) — he wants to make it count.
“Hopefully, I can prove to him that I belong with the group and that I need to get more looks from here on out,” Feilhaber told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday afternoon. “I had a lot of opportunities under Bob (Bradley, former US coach). I got a lot of games and played in a lot of big tournaments. Hopefully, I can prove to Jurgen that I can be that player who can fit into his system and be counted on.”
Feilhaber, who has featured in Gold Cup, Olympic and World Cup squads for the US over the past five years, is the most experienced international player on the January roster. In 38 appearances, the 26-year-old has scored two goals.
“The fact is that most of the first-teamers or A-teamers aren't going to be there,” Feilhaber said. “This is a group of guys who are maybe right on the cusp of making it to that team or maybe being a bench player or whatever the case may be. I think everybody knows that, so you have to go in there and really shine during camp to have an opportunity to play your way onto the A-team.”
The scenario presents a different series of challenges for a player who fired home the winning goal in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup final and influenced World Cup matches as a substitute three years later, but Feilhaber’s skills and international experience would seem to fit with the new regime’s possession-oriented direction. Still, he understands that this might end up being his one shot to impress Klinsmann.
“There's no doubt that I want to get back into the national team,” Feilhaber said. “It's important for my career, and, regardless of anything else, it's something I love doing. I love playing for the US, I love playing at the international level. It's extremely competitive and you get to play against the best players in the world in the biggest competitions. There's definitely extra pressure and extra motivation for me to do well in this camp.”
WATCH: Feilhaber blasts one in against Columbus