Benny Feilhaber was brought in to fill the biggest hole in Sporting Kansas City's talent-laden lineup – and now he won't be around when they open training camp later this month.
The midfielder, acquired from New England last month after Roger Espinoza elected to depart for Premier League side Wigan Athletic, was one of three Sporting players called into January camp on Sunday by US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
So while Feilhaber will be getting time on the training pitch with two of his club teammates, after midfielder Graham Zusi and center back Matt Besler also got call-ups, it won't be time spent learning Sporting manager Peter Vermes' system.
Sporting will just have to make the best of it, Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone earlier this week.
"Would it be better if Benny was with us? Sure," Vermes said. "But I know he's going to get a great environment. I always say, and it's a cliché, but when you have good players, they get opportunities like that."
Sporting, who are coming off the 2012 US Open Cup title and their second straight finish atop the Eastern Conference in the regular-season standings, open workouts on Jan. 17. The USMNT have matches against Canada on Jan. 29 in Houston and at Honduras on Feb. 6, meaning Feilhaber could be three weeks late in getting to Kansas City if he makes the roster for the US team’s daunting World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.
"I'm sure we'll have time enough to get him acclimated, and we'll do what we have to to get him indoctrinated into the team," Vermes said. "I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't be better if he were there from Day 1, but we'll work with it."
Besides the three called in this week, Sporting have two other players – forwards C.J. Sapong and Teal Bunbury – who have been capped for the ‘Nats. And with Klinsmann planning to field separate squads this year for 2014 World Cup qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Vermes would not be surprised to see more of his players get the call.
Right back Chance Myers is the most likely next choice, he said.
"I think at some point Chance deserves a shot," Vermes said. "I think there will be a few other guys that, hopefully, over the course of the season will prove the same thing. But definitely, I think Chance deserves a shot."
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.