KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With two newcomers, two mainstays and a veteran looking to win back a regular roster spot, Sporting Kansas City will be the best-represented club at the US national team's January training camp.
Both of Sporting's fullbacks, left back Seth Sinovic and right back Chance Myers, received their first call-ups on Friday as part of the 26-man roster named by Jurgen Klinsmann. They will be joined by center back Matt Besler and midfielder/winger Graham Zusi, both of whom have become core members of Klinsmann's squad, and midfielder Benny Feilhaber (above), who parlayed a solid 2013 MLS season into a third straight January invitation.
All five played key roles in Sporting's run to their first MLS Cup title since 2000.
“It's a testament to how successful we've been as a team this year,” Sinovic told MLSsoccer.com on Friday morning at the team's training facility. “Team success usually brings on individual success, and in this case it's no different.”
Sinovic's call-up gives the city of Kansas City a higher profile with the national team, as both he and Besler (below, right) – the first Kansas-born player to take the pitch for the United States – are natives of the area.
“I think it's awesome to have the opportunity not only to train and potentially play for the national team, but to be Kansas City guys and represent Kansas City and Kansas City youth soccer, where we came from,” Sinovic said. “I think it's huge. It's a testament to Kansas City. It's a testament to our club and the work we've put in over the years.”
Friday's call-ups also reflect the work done by Sporting's defense this year, which gave up an MLS-fewest 30 goals in the regular season, with all three US-eligible members of the backline getting invitations. And, Sinovic said, that also shows how important the fullbacks are in SKC's scheme.
“Thankfully, in our system the fullbacks are a big part of the offense and defense,” he said. “I think that showed this year, so hopefully we can bring that to the national team.”
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Feilhaber has 40 caps for the national team, including three appearances for former coach Bob Bradley at the 2010 World Cup but has yet to establish a solid foothold in Klinsmann's regular squad. His last cap came nearly a year ago in a scoreless friendly against Canada. But after a resurgence in his first season with Sporting, Feilhaber said in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com that he's looking forward to making the most of this chance.
“Jurgen obviously saw something in me this year with Kansas City and is giving me another opportunity,” he said. “It's nice to be in this situation, and obviously there's only six months to go until the World Cup, so there's still a lot to play for. I'm excited. He's talked to me before and told me how much he believes in my game, so it's not so much proving anything as being consistent week in, week out and showing it. I think that's something I did better this year.”
The 28-year-old Feilhaber has an extra reason for wanting to make the squad for Brazil 2014 – it's being played in the country in which he was born.
“That would be something really special,” the Rio de Janeiro native said. “It would be tough to describe right now. I think if it were to happen, I'd be able to describe the feeling a bit more.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.