Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes had logical explanations (loaded and ready to serve up) for leaving former U.S. international Benny Feilhaber behind Saturday for the team’s trip into Dallas to meet the Western Conference leaders. Feilhaber was not in the 18-man squad.
And it’s perfectly logical that Vermes would not publicly dog his first-year midfielder; Most coaches would handle this similarly.
But is anybody buying? Even if you accept the explanations at face value, the bottom line here still makes you wince for the former U.S. international:
Feilhaber just keeps finding more ditches to drive his career into.
Truly, there is no way to spin it. When a 28-year-old midfielder, one who should be MLS elite level, one sufficiently talented to push for a second consecutive World Cup roster spot, cannot make the travel squad for a mid-pack Eastern Conference team, things have gone very, very wrong.
And in Feilhaber’s case, we have to say “very, very wrong … again.”
I aksed Vermes after last night’s match about his choice to leave the veteran midfielder behind. The manager said tactics and personnel considerations dictated the choice.
“Tactically, I needed to make sure we had enough defensive guys,” he said. “I needed another outside back and I needed another defensive midfielder, so that’s where [the choice] came from.”
I then asked if Feilhaber had, generally, provided enough for the team this year. Vermes’ response:
“It takes a little bit of time to adapt and to acclimate to the way we play. That’s nothing against him. He has given us some good minutes this year and we’ll continue to keep working towards it, I’m sure.”
As endorsements go, that one won’t be framed and put on any walls. That’s what you say about some second-year man out of college, not what you say about a U.S. international (formerly so, anyway) and a playmaker expected to be a centerpiece in your midfield.
Truth is, if you ask people around Sporting Kansas City about the last really good match the man had for the team, you get … some naval gazing and shoulder shrugs.
Feilhaber was out of New England’s plans by late summer of 2012 and he’s falling further off the map around Sporting Kansas City. The man needs a career reboot something fierce. Another one, that is.