Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber slammed US men’s national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann on Tuesday, telling reporters at Major League Soccer’s annual media day in Manhattan Beach, California that he doesn’t “think that Jurgen calls in the best players that are available to him.”
On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Klinsmann responded.
The USMNT boss, who hasn’t called Feilhaber to a camp since January 2014, spoke with ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle and Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep in separate exclusive interviews that he understands Feilhaber’s frustration, even if he disagrees with 30-year-old’s critiques.
"We had [Feilhaber] several times with us, and he was not able to make a mark," Klinsmann told Carlisle. "Benny unfortunately was never able to step up to an international level with me. Whatever was before was before.”
Klinsmann further explained his decision making process to Goal.com:
“[Feilhaber’s] perspective gives him his opinion. He doesn’t have a coach’s perspective. He doesn’t know how we put the pieces together. He doesn’t know how we evaluate every position, how we evaluated the pieces that we need to connect.”
Feilhaber, who has 41 career appearances with the USMNT and played under Bob Bradley at the 2010 World Cup, listed several players on Tuesday that he feels deserve more attention from the USMNT, including MLS standouts Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan and Matt Hedges. Klinsmann refuted any notion on Wednesday that those players – none of whom were called to the current January camp, which is split between USMNT and Under-23 players – are somehow not under consideration to receive national team calls.
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The US manager insisted that team chemistry and how a player fits into his tactical system determines call ups, saying to ESPN FC, “There are many different aspects to the game. There's the playing side, the chemistry side, it's how people match. What is the dynamic of the group, and so on. So many points come into the decision as to why some people are part of it then and why some people aren't part of it."
Klinsmann also shed some light on why he hasn’t called up Feilhaber, who finished the 2015 season third in the MLS Landon Donovan MVP voting and said on Tuesday that he’s “accepted the fact that Jurgen’s not going to call me in.”
“I cannot speak for [Bradley]. Bob had his own experiences with him,” Klinsmann said to Goal.com. “Whenever he came in with us, he never made an impression that made us say, ‘This is an international level.’ It’s as simple as that.”