Sporting Kansas City made perhaps the biggest move of the MLS offseason so far on Tuesday, landing World Cup veteran midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the struggling New England Revolution in exchange for allocation money, Sporting KC’s natural first-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and natural second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
Feilhaber, 27, was out of contract with the Revs following the 2012 season and now finds himself in the midfield for one of the preeminent teams in the league since their 2011 rebirth. SKC posted the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference each of the past two seasons before they were bounced from the postseason by the Houston Dynamo, but Feilhaber should add some offensive punch to a midfield that already boasts US national team regular Graham Zusi.
“I am really excited to come to Sporting Kansas City,” Feilhaber said in a statement. “It is a top-class organization and team in Major League Soccer. My goal is to help the team however I can. I cannot wait to play in the best stadium in the league and in front of a great fan base. I am already hyped for the first home game.”
Feilhaber showed mixed results for the Revs since retuning stateside in 2011 from Danish side AGF Aarhus via the allocation process, appearing in 52 total games and posting five goals and nine assists. But the Revs failed to even flirt with the postseason each season and decided not to bring Feilhaber back for next season, instead opting to plan for the future with draft picks in 2014 and 2015 and money to spend during the offseason.
“We've been working on several options with Benny for a few months and we feel this trade with Kansas City is the most beneficial outcome for the Revs,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “This move allows us greater roster flexibility in both 2013 and beyond.”
Feilhaber’s addition comes at a crucial time for Sporting Kansas City, who let veteran midfielder Júlio César go after the season and appear to be on the verge of losing Roger Espinoza to a career in England.
“Benny is an excellent two-way, box-to-box midfielder who has tremendous ability, especially with the final pass,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. “His experience with the US national team programs and playing overseas will serve him well in our system.”
Feilhaber has made 39 appearances for the USMNT, debuting in 2007 and recording an assist and game-winning goal in his third cap at the international level. He went on to start four of his five appearances at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, including the championship match against Mexico.
He continued to be a key contributor for the United States on the national team’s biggest stages and was the only player to appear in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Most recently, Feilhaber took the field for the United States alongside current Sporting Kansas City teammates Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong and Graham Zusi in a 1-0 victory over Venezuela this past January. He also played previously with Jacob Peterson and Bobby Convey for the United States at the international level.