Former Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber has completed a one-year deal with the Colorado Rapids, with an unspecified option for a second year, the club announced Friday.
Feilhaber spent two seasons with the New England Revolution before joining Sporting KC prior to the 2013 season, and became one of the more well-known members of the KC roster over a five-year spell, winning an MLS Cup in 2013. The 33-year-old joined LAFC before last season and made 34 league appearances for them, scoring three goals and adding six assists. He also started and played 73 minutes in the playoff loss to Real Salt Lake.
“Benny is a creative and experienced MLS veteran,” Rapids Executive VP & GM Padraig Smith told the official team release. “He is a player that will help balance our midfield and contribute to the scoresheet.”
According to reports, Feilhaber will make just under the maximum salary of $530,000, meaning he will not need to be bought down by GAM or be a Designated Player. He joins other new Colorado arrivals such as Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio, and Keegan Rosenberry.
Feilhaber owns 44 appearances for the USMNT, but was infamously shut out of the squad by former manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and while he returned to the fold after Klinsmann was fired, his age prevented him from being a major contributor to the team.
So it’s pretty surprising that Philly shipped the 25-year-old to Colorado on Wednesday for allocation money.
It’s another quality addition for Anthony Hudson’s Rapids, who’ve landed Kei Kamara and Kellyn Acosta since the middle of last season (And Diego Rubio’s full name is Diego Iván Rubio Köstner. So many K’s).
Rosenberry is a Pennsylvania native who was invited to USMNT camp in January 2017 and may well be a part of Gregg Berhalter’s call-ups, which will be announced Thursday.
From the moment I was drafted 3 years ago I have felt nothing but gratitude towards the @PhilaUnion organization & it’s fans. It is now time to start a new chapter with the @ColoradoRapids and I couldn’t be more excited about the future! pic.twitter.com/XK7GdnH9QP
Rowe, 27, mainly operates on the right side of the pitch, but is very versatile. He scored in one of his four USMNT caps, and was a fairly consistent threat in MLS before falling out of favor with Friedel. Rowe has 35 goals and 41 assists in 225 matches for the Revs.
Thirty-two year-old left back Castillo had a fine season with the Rapids, and brings 18 USMNT caps to the Revs. He went the entire 90 minutes in his last two U.S. appearances, both against Guatemala in 2016.
Rubio, 25, joins Kei Kamara atop the Colorado attack, which now can threaten in a few more ways to go with Kellyn Acosta.
Four-times capped by Chile, Rubio scored 11 times with six assists in 28 appearances for SKC this season. He finishes his Kansas City tenure with 20 goals in 65 total appearances for the club.
The moves make sense for all three teams, though KC has to feel the best on the day.
Kamara has 112 MLS goals including 14 with five assists last season in Vancouver and will give Colorado a big target man while allowing FCC a valuable extra international slot as most of theirs were taken with players retained from the USL.
Mattocks scored 10 goals for DC last season, while FCC has the rights to Lamah, who is out-of-contract after scoring eight goals with five assists last season.
But what does he really think about the quality of the stars in MLS, and overseas? And does his work with the Crew tip his hand at all in terms of how he’ll line up the Yanks.
Personnel will dictate what he sticks with, but what formation gets first dibs?
Berhalter operated in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 for most of this season, switching to the latter for the last 10 starting lineups of the regular season and three MLS Cup Playoff games.
Part of that 4-3-3 was very much akin to a 4-2-3-1, with Federico Higuain operating atop a midfield pyramid.
It’s worth noting that no teams beat Berhalter’s Crew more often than Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls (7). It’s not a stretch to say he’ll have respected impressions of Tyler Adams, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Aaron Long, and their peers (Altidore, for example, has five goals and an assist in seven games against Berhalter).
Who has caught his eye abroad, aside from Pulisic, McKennie, etc? And is this an MLS litmus test?
When you consider the men from outside MLS set to star for the USMNT in future seasons, there’s little doubt about the new guard of Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and John Brooks, but who else might Berhalter have admired in studying those who followed his career path and spent most of the careers abroad?
A deeper look, though, raises the question of how many MLS players will get continued, deep assessments given how many USMNT players or prospects are in top European environments. For example, you could call up a 23-man roster based entirely on the continent and feel confident you’ve made few errors (assuming a transfer Steffen happens).
This isn’t a shot at MLS, who developed many of these players (I’ll denote that with a *). It’s rationality, and a compliment.
Goalkeepers (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Zack Steffen* (Columbus->Man City – reportedly), Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin)
Midfielders (8): Geoff Cameron* (QPR), Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Weston McKennie* (Schalke), Tyler Adams* (RB Leipzig), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Romain Gall* (Malmo)
Forwards (4): Bobby Wood (Hannover 96), Tim Weah (PSG), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Haji Wright (Schalke)
How big of a day is this for Wil Trapp?
The Columbus Crew defensive midfielder has already captained the USMNT eight times under Dave Sarachan. That’s 8-of-11 caps for a 25-year-old, and it’s been whispered that his continued inclusion may’ve been a sign Berhalter was coming for some time.
But is that simply connecting too many dots? Yes, Trapp was a mainstay for Berhalter with the Crew, but he’s often struggled to star when given the chance in a U.S. shirt at a time when few other players had the opportunity.
Trapp was the 12th-rated American defensive midfielder with more than 10 appearances in MLS this season, according to WhoScored. Taking away anyone not rated strictly as a holding or DCM, Trapp is behind six players: Russell Canouse, Sean Davis, Cristian Roldan, Tyler Adams, Jeff Larentowicz, and Benny Feilhaber. The first four are the same age or younger than Trapp, and 18-year-old Chris Durkin wasn’t far behind the Crew man.
Will any other Crew players get a chance to shine?
Gyasi Zardes, 27, scored 20 goals while leading the Crew in minutes this season, but Berhalter has had success with any number of strikers in his system. Ola Kamara and Kei Kamara each had prolific seasons for Columbus.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, 23, is already entrenched in the USMNT plans, whether he can outplay Ethan Horvath or not.
Aside from Trapp and the two above, there are not many other Americans under 30 who’ve seen many minutes under Berhalter since Ethan Finlay left town in 2017.
It’s also probably bad news for Kekuta Manneh, who washed out of Columbus and has yet to score for St. Gallen in Switzerland.