Even after missing a significant chunk of his first preseason with Sporting Kansas City, midfielder Benny Feilhaber is already fitting well into his new club's system – and is perhaps even a bit ahead of schedule.
“It's been quick. It's been really quick,” manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone earlier this week from Orlando, Fla. “But he's a smart soccer player, so picking up some of these things, it's not surprising.”
Feilhaber, acquired in an offseason trade with New England after Roger Espinoza departed for England's Wigan Athletic, was called into the US national team's January camp by Jurgen Klinsmann and earned his first cap in a year in last month's scoreless friendly against Canada.
That caused him to miss the first half of Sporting's preseason, but Feilhaber has looked solid in Kansas City's first three games of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
Vermes, whose club closes out the tournament with the third-place match against Toronto FC on Saturday, said Feilhaber's previous MLS experience has made the transition easier than it might be for someone coming in from another league.
“He's been playing in the league,” Vermes said. “He already knows that there's a physical level of play in this league, so he has a much better level of familiarity with that aspect of it. The adaptation from the league point of view is much easier. Now it's just from the expectation point of view, how he understands his role. But his progress has been good here, in the short amount of time that he's been with us.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.