KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Benny Feilhaber isn't looking back to his frustrating 2012 season with New England. Still, it felt good for the Sporting Kansas City midfielder to match his entire assist total from that year – in one night, just five games into the 2013 campaign.
“I've put last season in the rearview mirror,” Feilhaber said on Saturday night, after assisting on both of Sporting's goals in their 2-0 victory over the previously-unbeaten Montreal Impact. “I try not to think about it too much. I'm just looking forward to this season, and it's been great so far. I think now, I'm really feeling more comfortable with the system, with the players, and I think the other players are getting used to me as well.
“It's great to get two assists,” added Feilhaber, who set up Claudio Bieler's fifth-minute strike with a well-placed through ball and then delivered his second assist on Graham Zusi's insurance goal in the 80th minute. “It's awesome to get the three points at home.”
Feilhaber's work on defense in the middle third, along with Uri Rosell and Paulo Nagamura, also helped Sporting maintain pressure on the Impact and deny them opportunities to break out on the counterattack.
“I thought that we disrupted a lot of plays in the way we went after them,” manager Peter Vermes said in the postgame news conference. “It takes a lot of hard work. It's different from any other team in the league, and it's a high demand, physically. Those guys, they were very, very good in the middle of the midfield.”
For Feilhaber, who missed the opening weeks of Sporting's preseason after being called into the US national team's January camp by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, getting up to speed with his new club has been as as much a mental matter as a physical one.
“Kansas City plays a very different style of pressure than any other team in this league,” he said. “It takes a little while for the new guys, including myself, to kind of pick up on it – when we want to go, when we want to hold a little more. It's obviously not the easiest system to figure out right off the bat, so I'm getting it little by little. I think I'm improving every game. Today, I think it all came together for myself and for the team.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.