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Confederations Cup: Feilhaber could play in another final

Benny Feilhaber ( 

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When the U.S. national team plays Brazil on Sunday in the Confederations Cup final, there will likely be twelve Brazilians on the field when the game kicks off.

No, the Brazilians are not going to have an extra player on the field, nor is the referee for Sunday's match from the South American country. But Brazilian-born American midfielder Benny Feilhaber is the most likely candidate to step into the U.S. line-up given the suspension of midfielder Michael Bradley.

Feilhaber, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, has enjoyed a successful transition back into the U.S. national team mix, having played in five of the team's six matches this summer. He made his return to international soccer after a year-long hiatus when he was used as a halftime sub for Pablo Mastroeni in the United States' 2-1 victory over Honduras in World Cup qualifying.

The AGF Aarhus midfielder has continued to come off the bench since then, with his lone start coming in the 3-1 loss to Italy in the Group B opener of the Confederations Cup. Feilhaber also made second-half appearances against Spain, in which he was key in the buildup to the United States' second goal, Egypt and Brazil.

While some fans may ask for the inclusions of midfielders Jose Francisco Torres or Freddy Adu when the U.S. takes on the likes of Kaka and Robinho, it is Feilhaber who best suits the U.S. team. Not only does Feilhaber provide more defensive bite than either Adu or Torres, but Feilhaber is quite familiar with the Brazilian team, having played them in both previous encounters. While he struggled in his first meeting vs. Brazil, back in 2007, Feilhaber showed some good flashes last week, including a shot that stung off the crossbar in the waning moments of the match.   

Feilhaber is also no stranger to filling in for Michael Bradley, who was ejected in the 87th minute against Spain. It was a little more than two years ago when, in an eerily similar situation, Bradley was red carded in the 86th minute of the semifinals of the Gold Cup, setting the stage for Feilhaber to replace him in the tournament's final against Mexico. 


Feilhaber played a key role in the match that day, blasting a superb game-winning volley past Osvaldo Sanchez as the United States defeated Mexico, 2-1, winning the cup and clinching the Americans' passage to the Confederations Cup.

If history does indeed repeat itself, then Sunday will be a Brazilian's chance to shine once again, only he won't be playing for the Selecao.


Do you think Feilhaber should start tomorrow? Are you feeling deja vu? Hoping Feilhaber pulls a Rossi and scores against his birth nation tomorrow?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Benny is the best player on the U.S. team by far. It’s a travesty that he doesn’t start every game and shows the lack of understanding of the game by our coaches. If you tackle hard and get red cards you’ll start under bradley. Benny needs to be the playmaker of this team like a fabregas or kaka, with bradley backing him up as the holding midfielder. Instead we get Bradley and a crappier form of him in Ricardo. Go Benny!

  2. MensreaJim – Do you know any Brazilians? The Brazilians I know are not “measured and understanding” about their football. The one Brazilian I know who self-described “does not care for football”, nonetheless screamed and jumped around the room when we watched Brazil play in the World Cup. Another Brazilian I know can hardly watch the Brazil games because she is so nervous that they might lose. If the US manages to beat Brazil today, the reaction in Brazil will be outrage.

  3. I like Tom P’s post, we should see what countries we all qualify for. Canada and the UK came calling, but I held out for the US. Also, I never played soccer.

    Rossi blah blah blah, I don’t care about Rossi’s choice, and it also isn’t an equivalent situation. I’m sure Benny would have played for Brazil if they’d have had him. And I’m also sure that if Benny scores two goals today in a win that the reaction in Brazil will be measured and understanding.

  4. 1 – i’m pretty sure feilhaber had been starting the previous games in the gold cup and did not replace bradley when he was red carded, he would have started anyways.
    2 – why do US fans expect defensive play from their offensive players? do you think brazil cares if kaka plays defense? spain if xavi can tackle? etc. etc. offensive players serve 2 goals – one, to score goals, two, to keep possession and relieve pressure from the defense. if adu just isn’t good enough, then that’s fine, but he is an offensive player. his tackling ability shouldn’t matter and if he can help keep possession that will be the biggest help to our defense, who honestly showed holes against spain – they were able to feed a lot of crosses fro the flanks in, though gooch/demerit cleared it well, that won’t always happen.
    3 – the US should start some combination of a pure defensive destroyer with a more attacking player. so if MB wants to be considered/people want to consider him as this box to box player, than he needs to be placed in the second category. so it seems like a combo of rico/edu/mastro/jones + torres/feil/bradley. in my mind, in terms of possession, feilhaber is by far the best, and he does little in terms of stupid tackles.
    HOWEVER, i still think a bradley/feilhaber combo could work if bradley is forced to stay home a little more.

  5. @ Joe B – I agree with your line up that you would like to see or even with Dempsey pushed up top. Davies reminds me thus far of Eddie Johnson in that he adds a speed element, but not much else. I hope he continues to develop as a striker. At this point I think Torres brings more creativity and possession to the midfield and Dempsey adds more to the team in an advanced offensive position.

  6. Going to write this again. … Feilhaber is not a starter. Not right now. The biggest impacts he’s had are for 30 minutes. Most have been the last 30 minutes. He’s not fit yet for 90 minutes. But when he’s come on after the 60th minute, he makes a huge difference. Sadly, there probably isn’t any other choice than put him in the lineup from minute 0.

  7. Benny Feilhaber is American.

    I’m AMERICAN, not italian. got it?

    11 brazilians will take the field against 11 Americans.

  8. If Sasha starts, get ready for another red. Hell, I’m cynical enough right now to just say, expect a red either way.

  9. you must be mindless to think sasha will start. hopefully bradley isn’t mindless as well.

    if sasha starts we will certainly lose. Sasha doesn’t have the composure to protect the ball vs brazil.

  10. the line-up we will see tomorrow:

    Sasha – 1st half
    Feilhaber – 2nd half

    everything else stays the same from the spain line-up including subs

  11. I know Benny was born in Brazil but I thought his parents were Austrian or at least one of them was because Austria wanted him to play for them at one point.

    Another reason why it’s crazy to jump on Rossi guys- everybody can play for anyone these days.

    Even I qualify to play for 4 country’s according to FIFA and I come the most USA loving, patriotic, flag waving family there is but I’m 1st generation on one side – Irish and Northern Irish, and 2nd generation on the other- Italian and- yikes! -Maltese.

    Plus this all means nothing because my right foot is useless, I’m 44 and generally I sucked even when I was young enough to play. Very much a American P.E. type player; kick it and out run the other players plus I loved studs up tackles

  12. The lineup I’d like to see:


    What it’ll be:


    I hope Torres can come in for Benny. No Sacha please…

  13. Lalas was no good in the front office. In NY his big moves were to make b. Bradley wear a suit and tie at games and then fire him. His move to LA was no less farcical. As a player, he was a brute with no or little finesse. He fit in to Bora-ball by being able to tackele hard and defend brutally, but to think he was in any way a complete player with great understanding is just wrong.

    His on air performance suffers from the same lack of understanding. All he could see in the difference between the Italy game and the Egypt game was guys getting stuckin and trying hard. I do have to admit that he did notice that Beasley played poorly, but he failed to analyze what either Italy of Brazil did well or what they did to make life hard for the US. His comments were mostly negative, kind of what you might expect from a player whose job was simply to destroy.

  14. Another good reason to start Benny is that he understands Brazil’s style of play. He’s been watching the selecao for many years and his team in Rio, Botafogo.

    Recently he asked that his new idol Maicosuel (from Botafogo) be given a chance on the Brazilian national team…

  15. ESPN soccer analysts suck. Lalas and Harkes weren’t any good as players and they are worse broadcasters.

    No kidding? Are you that old to remember them that poorly? 🙂

    I actually liked Harkes as a player, Lalas less so, but both I like in the studio. I also like John Madden, but he isn’t much help here for a couple of reasons . . .

  16. i know that the WC is still a year away, but its really comforting to see benny coming along as he is. That rough spot he hit with his club teams, at his age, could have derailed his career. I’m glad he’s back as he adds an attacking option to our midfield, along with torres and maybe (but probably not at this point) adu. Hes done great job coming off the bench and it’s only right that he starts. If he keeps progressing, he’s going to be a valuable asset for us in 2010. Let’s hope he keeps up the progress tomorrow.

  17. told “But since the game is against the country were I was born, the country of my parents and where I still have many friends and a lot of family, it’s going to be extra emotional for me.”

    So where are all the hypocrites?

  18. Benny’s back and he’s better than ever. I sure hope so. But saying Benny is better defensively than Torres is bull idea that people got because Bob gave the hook after a half of a match in which he was far from being the worse guy on the match. Hopefully he’ll get another chance to prove himself.

  19. i think having boca on the left will make a big difference in the game. i would play a straight up 4-4-2 with altidore and davies up top again. if we go down a goal, or dempsey gets tired, i would move him up top and sub davies for adu to take dempseys spot out wide left. the first 15 minutes will be crucial. no brazil goal in the first 15 then i think it should be a good game. i will predict 1-1 through regulation with an extra time goal by Dempsey to win it.

  20. If my crystal ball is working correctly — Gilberto Silva will be sent off mid second half on 2 yellows

  21. I have visions of an “ALCOA Moment” Altidore strike from the top of the box for the game winner.

    USA 2 Brasil 1

  22. ESPN soccer analysts suck. Lalas and Harkes weren’t any good as players and they are worse broadcasters. Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth are the only decent ESPN Soccer analysts. Lalas, Harkes, Michallik and Hislop need to be canned and ESPN should raid Setanta UK for some decent on air talent especially if they are going to try and get US EPL rights later this summer (since they lost Champions League to FSC).

  23. I agree Lalas has done a decent job. It’s still hard to listen to him give his “expert” opinions. It’s kind of like when they brought Matt Millen in to analyze football games after he was fired from the Lions.

  24. Feilhaber will unquestionably get the start. Perhaps Torres will come on as a late game sub, depending on the circumstances.

    Does anyone else think Alexi Lalas has done a fairly good job as an ESPN analyst? I thought he was awful in the front office, but I can’t say he’s been bad after watching him the past few days.


  25. The first appearance versus Brasil was the beginning of his I-hit-the-game-winning-shot-versus-Mexico-to-win-the-Gold-Cup-so-everyone-should-worship-me-becuase-I’m-really-that-good phase.

    I’m glad to see him out of it and am looking forward to good things from him tomorrow.

  26. I think Benny’s grown up quite a bit from what we have seen him go through since the Gold Cup in 07.

    Hope I’m right and hope he continues because we really need a “Reyna” type player to grow as a team.

  27. agree with cbr. i’d love to see torres get some more time…i really don’t understand why he has been taken off the field completely. however, it seems like we have a great shot at this title, especially if we start feilhaber. i think one thing coach bradley really needs to keep his eye on is deuce’s fitness, as he has seemed to wear down pretty early in a few of these games. i have no problem moving him up top to start with altidore and maybe bringing davies on for whichever of the two of them fatigue early. jozy hasn’t impressed me with his ability to hang on to the ball. here’s what i would like to see, however unreasonable it might seem:

    gk: howard
    d: demerit, boca, onyewu, spector
    m: sasha, feilhaber, clark, donovan
    f: deuce, altidore

    deuce could drop off a little bit and when he wears out or of altidore runs out of steam we have davies, adu, or even torres. also bornstein has been good coming off the bench at d so i feel good about those four starters. i know sasha hasn’t been great but we could use a little extra creativity against the brazilians, and he seems to bring that (normally).

  28. Ill be happy if feilhaber steps in smoothly.
    Also, if torres and or Adu can get in, then it will be perfect.


  29. all i care about is that klesjkan and beasely get kidnapped and shipped FedEx back to the US so BB is not even tempted to put their sorry a$$es on the field ever again.

    i think all 3 US red cards have been total BS. Bradley should be on the pitch tomorrow but I hope Feilhaber can do the task.

  30. Maybe if Bradley will put Benny in a more advanced role than our central midfielders are typically found, Benny can disrupt Gilberto Silva, who is the defensive tip (?) of their diamond. Then Benny would be able to play more of his game when we have the ball. Come on Benny, make Brazil regret not capping you (kidding).

  31. of cousre he should start…no way bradley goes for torres or adu. in the middle.

    we’re in it to win it, not give young players more experience


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