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The SBI View: Klinsmann’s decision to snub Feilhaber is baffling

Benny Feilhaber Sporting Kansas City 54

photo by Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports


Jurgen Klinsmann constantly preaches that players need to be leaders and difference makers at their clubs in order to earn looks with his U.S. Men’s National Team. It is more of a mandate than a suggestion, a demanding guideline of sorts for the entire American player pool to try and follow in order to break through the established core group.

It also why the recent omission of Benny Feilhaber is all the more baffling.

Few players have performed at a higher level consistently this MLS season than Feilhaber. The veteran midfielder has been one of the league’s best players through the first third of the campaign, as he has helped lead Sporting Kansas City to a 5-2-6 start that has the club sitting in fourth place in the loaded and competitive Western Conference.

Feilhaber, 30, hasn’t just contributed Kansas City’s cause, either. He has played a big role in it, scoring four goals and assisting on a league-high seven others. Feilhaber is also doing plenty of the defensive work that he struggled with in the past, tracking back, getting stuck in and breaking up plays to help initiate attacks. He is admittedly more of a two-way player now than he’s ever been, but yet somehow Klinsmann continues to pass up on a chance to bring Feilhaber back into the U.S. fold.

Klinsmann named his latest roster on Sunday for a pair of upcoming friendlies against two stiff European tests. Several key players were left off due to various reasons, and still Feilhaber wasn’t included. This, despite Feilhaber being the kind of offensive-minded, proactive player that Klinsmann has vowed repeatedly that he wants more of since taking over the U.S. program four summers ago.

“I’m a type of person that wants to develop more an attacking style of a play that the players enjoy,” Klinsmann told the media before his first game in August 2011. “They will take risks and hopefully put the opponent under pressure.”

Feilhaber has done that aplenty this season. He has scored or assisted in seven of Sporting KC’s 13 games this year, all but guaranteeing that he surpasses his career highs of four goals and seven assists. It has essentially been a career year for him, and yet the season is not even at the halfway point.

None of this is entirely surprising, however. Feilhaber has always had the vision and technical skills to unlock defenses. He has just progressively gotten better and more consistent during his time under Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes.

Where Feilhaber has made big strides this year is on the defensive side. His fitness has improved tremendously, and so has his discipline and willingness to do the grunt work. In the past, his inability to play both ways was a major strike against him. Now, he’s embraced that challenge and is thriving.

“I used to be a guy that didn’t have the best fitness, and I definitely got tired throughout games,” Feilhaber told SBI last month. “When you get tired you tend to lack in some areas, typically the area that you’re weak at, so that’s always been the defensive side for me.

“Now that I have that in place, I can do more of the running and then I’m able to, in those moments, to kind of track back, help my team defensively and at the same time do the pressing and help my team win balls and bring energy to the position.

“I think that’s definitely one of the things that’s most improved and most allowed me to become more of a two-way player.”

Not even those improvements, and an injury to called-up Jermaine Jones on Sunday, were enough to get Feilhaber on Klinsmann’s roster for the upcoming games in Europe vs. Germany and the Netherlands.

That’s a head-scratching development given the state of the U.S. squad right now. Yes, the midfield might be the most crowded and deepest position in the pool right now, but it is not like there is a bevy of players available that combine international experience, vision, defending and playmaking the way Feilhaber does.

At this point, it is clear Klinsmann doesn’t rate Feilhaber. The midfielder has seldom been called in by Klinsmann, and there are whispers of a falling out between the two, which could be a result of Feilhaber being more of a “taker” than “giver” in the locker room, to use Klinsmann’s own examples of player personalities.

Still, these two friendlies provided a perfect platform to see if the Feilhaber of today could bring something new or different to the table. His form in MLS has been exceptional, but, as surprising as it may be, we won’t have the chance to find out if Feilhaber’s recent success can translate to the international level.


  1. For what it’s worth, Klindmann did the same exavt thing with Mehmet Scholl. Mehmet Scholl enjoyed a renaissance of epic proportions right before the 2006 World Cup. If nothing else, he would have been a fantastic super sub against Italy in the semi-final. Mehmet was old (I think 34 at the time), but was probably playing the best midfielder in Germany not named Michael Ballack. But Klinsmann let some personal issues in the past keep him from bringing him back into the fold. Sometimes I think he snubs great players just so people know he can. I’d be fine with that if he were a great coach. But so far I rate him so-so.

    • PetedeLA,

      Scholl retired from the German national team before the 2002 World Cup. He was a great player but he was also a brittle one and injuries were always an issue with him.

      As we have seen, key injuries can be brutal in the compressed time frame of a World Cup.

      Benny does not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Scholl but Scholl was older and with a long injury history so leaving him out of a World Cup squad due to the fear that he might not hold up is pretty reasonable. That was part of the rationale for why BB cut Ching from the 2010 squad..

  2. Agreeing with pretty much everyone here but Franco, I’d pass on Benny too. If he gets snubbed off the MLS All-star team that would be ‘baffling’ (if I cared about that) but I just don’t see him working into the national team picture any time soon.

  3. Baffling? Not really. He hasn’t been part of the player pool for a very long time. He has played well for a few months. No surprise to me.

  4. I have not given up yet on Gringo Torres. He is only 27. I’d definitely take him over Mix in any line-up. Too bad he got injured!

    • Did you see him play at all at the beginning of this past season? He looked like a player reborn.. He was playing very well.. MOTM a few times I believe.
      Especially when they played him out wide left. But they also played him a few times at right mid which I didn’t quite understand, I was bummed he got hurt. I really thought he was in great form

    • I also like Corona, certainly better than Mixx. Mixx can be good for a while, then disappear. Torres has a serious physical issue. I looked into why he wasn’t playing for so long and he had back surgery where they fused some vertebrae. This could be a very major problem. Not a doctor, but I would hazard a guess that it might put his pro career in doubt, depending on the severity of the problem.

  5. Well, I like Dax McCarty. He played on US international youth teams (he was voted outstanding player in one tournament) and played for many years as a number 10 and has now played several years with the Red Bulls as a defensive mid, SO HE CAN BE BOTH A PLAYMAKER AND A DEFENDER. He is CAPTAIN of the Red Bulls, so he is a TEAM LEADER. He is younger than Benny or than Beckerman. Two years ago I started calling for Dax to be given a shot because he was having an OUTSTANDING SEASON for the Red Bulls. He is a very good MLS player with a lot of experience and ability. So why hasn’t Klinsmann given him a chance??!! The fact that Klinsmann hasn’t given Dax a chance shows conclusively that Klinsmann is an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing and SHOULD BE FIRED!!.

  6. Benny is meh for me. Not a glaring mistake on jk imo.

    Jks one unforgivable mistake is including wondo in Brazil. That header from Jones drops to landon, green, maybe even Aaron, we beat Belgium in regulation. Wondo didn’t even get his shot on fame from inside the box! Yeah, I know ur was a tough shot, weird bounce, etc, but remember fabians goal against Nigeria right before the world cup? That’s what world class players do, and what wondo did is what mls lifers so.

    • You are forgetting about Brad Davis. Klinsmann actually let him start a World Cup game!!! He was so horrible in the first-half of that game that Klinsmann got him outta there early in the second-half.

      • Good point, but I feel like Davis had a couple of good games in the wcq games, what rationale did jk have in bringing on wondo? He scored goals in the mls with a team designed to funnel the ball to him? The hat trick he scored against Cuba?

        No excuse.

  7. I’ve always liked Benny as a player — he should have started the 2010 World Cup — but teams are not necessarily built based on someone’s idea of the “best” players. JK plainly prefers “engine” guys in the midfield. Ultra-hardworking, two-way players with defensive bite and an ability to get forward as necessary. Perhaps his game has evolved in that direction, but Benny also isn’t a classic central mid, he isn’t a winger, and he isn’t a true “Number 10” (assuming such a thing really exists). He is also 30 — and has a bunch of smart, skilled, younger talent behind him that is more likely the future of our midfield. As for results, JK beat Ghana in a World Cup, which his predecessors failed to do, his subs/recruits scored goals, he’s gotten the qualifying and Gold Cup results we want, and he’s even thrown in some key foreign victories, and never lost to Mexico. Is Benny F really such an important omission that we should ignore his solid results?

  8. I’m not baffled. I think he brings some quality, but his position is one in which we currently have plenty of younger contributors.

    Midfielders ahead of Benny: Bradley, Jones, Diskerud, Bedoya, Williams, Morales…and younger guys like Pelosi, Hyndman, and Zelalem are in need of integration and provide more future potential.

    The one regular I would prefer him over would be Beckerman, but Beckerman plays a very specific role, one in which Benny would not excel.

  9. Benny is 30 and just now realizes that fitness, tackling and playing defense are vital to being an effective midfielder?! Too bad he didn’t realize this 5 years ago. He had his chance with the USMNT and he blew it.

    • I think that is the crux of the matter and Klinsmann doesn’t respect players who haven’t been willing to commit to the fullest, as Benny obviously didn’t do in the past.

  10. I dream of a world where the best players are picked, because they are the best players. There is so much ego and narcissism in the USMNT structure right now. I am finding it difficult to really get excited for anything involving them. The Gold Cup I am usually ecstatic about, but have been ho-hum as it approaches.

    I dislike a lot of the player selections, I dislike the formations (we haven’t seen the same players play back-to-back games in years), I dislike the attitude and commentary, and I especially dislike the way the USMNT plays right now stylistically. Maybe my American arrogance is at fault (sarcasm alert), but I would take Kreis, Kinnear, Bradley, or even Porter over Klinnsman and his constant BS he tries to shovel down my throat. The is no rhyme or reason to selections and formations right now, and it shows in the results.

    • I’m still excited for the Gold Cup and for any game the USMNT plays but I understand where you’re coming from. JK makes the self-loathing American contingent of the US soccer fanbase feel good but his results aren’t any better than the previous coaches. There are guys out there who are better but I’m not sure US Soccer is going to pay the kind of salary they would command. I think JK has some good ideas about how to structure our development system, and he’s a good choice for technical director, but as a head coach he’s adequate but no better.

      • In 2013 the record for the USMNT was the best in history and the US scored the most points in the Hex in history. I would argue (as would most) that the group we had in 20124 was the toughest group ever in US WC history. We beat Ghana for the first time, did better against Brazil than did Brazil or Portugal. While we made the quarters in 2002, that was because we were facing Mexico in the Round of 16. Compare that to facing Belgium in 2014, a much better team. So, saying that the US did no better than with previous coaches is not supported by facts, as is usual with your opinions.

      • Your logical post that is well-supported by real information is completely uncalled for and entirely inappropriate. How dare you include any factual analysis in your argument.

      • Unfortunately, Gary Page. This isn’t the current argument at had.

        We’re baffled as to why the best midfielder in MLS, playing the position we need, is left at home.

  11. Bigger snub – Feilhaber or Lichaj?

    I say Lichaj, especially seeing who is called in for the fullback positions. I don’t have a problem with who JK called in, but I think Lichaj should be given a chance as well.

  12. It doesn’t matter how old he is or how old he will be…….right now at this moment he is the best we have at attacking midfield and until someone comes along that is good enough, skilled enough or experienced enough to take their spots…..Dempsey, Feilhaber, Rimando, Evans, Brad Davis can play until they are 40…..if THEY are the best we’ve got. You should take a veterans spot ONLY if you are better than him and not because you are younger than him.

    • That’s one way to handle it and certainly sounds good in theory. But what happens when one of those older guys breaks down physically (as nearly all old older players eventually do) late in the cycle and the young guy behind him doesn’t have enough big game experience because you’ve been riding Dempsey, Feilhaber, Rimando, etc. for so long? I think taking a “next guy up” approach where you ride your veterans until they decline only really works if you’ve got a very deep player pool and a vehicle for getting your young players big-game experience outside of the national team set-up (e.g., you have a bunch of young guys in big leagues who are getting playing time in key games). Otherwise, I think you probably need to pick points in each World Cup cycle where you sacrifice some potential for wins for building up a few players from the next generation. Hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we can get to the point where our player pool is deeper, but until then, Klinsmann may legitimately feel that his best option is to rotate or phase out veterans so that the next generation isn’t forced into action for the first time in late cycle, high stakes games.

      • everyone talks about rotating players like a player needs to be with the team a year before they are ready. Morris who isn’t even a pro is doing OK and just got thrown in there…..from Stanford!!!!!!
        No one in our MLS player pool right now are playing better than Dempsey, Feilhaber or Rimando . So until that happens they play. If their fitness shows their age and becomes an issue then of course they don’t have to play……..but until then their age should not be an excuse and younger players need to be in the mindset to “play” them out of their spots.

  13. Feilhaber’s a nice player, but there are others with similar skill sets, so his omission doesn’t irk me that much. I mean, it’s not like he’s Landon Donovan or something.

    Wait, what?

  14. JK wants players that suit his style and values that more than actual performance on the field. It is difficult to pursue this method of coaching because the USA does not have the depth to field 23 players of a particular style so JK’s rosters frequently have gaping omissions. Fortunately when it really mattered JK pretty much put out his best available team during qualification and in the WC (Landon being the big exception). It is probably too late for Benny but I think that a lot of players that are succeeding with their club will be getting calls once qualification gets rolling.

    • Problem with this AlexH is that Feilhaber should have been in Brazil, he was kicking arse at SKC, his Owner and Coach could not believe he didn’t get a sniff, he is even better now!

  15. You can make an argument for him, certainly, but I’d hardly say his omission is baffling. He’ll be 33-34 by the time the next World Cup comes around and plays a position (attacking mid) where Klinsmann values physical endurance and 2-way play. While Klinsmann has brought back Jones, Beckerman, and Wondo this cycle, they all (a) play positions that require them to cover less ground than a CAM (Beckerman and Wondo aren’t 2-way players and Jones was just temporarily moved to CB in a failed effort to prolong his time with the team) and (b) were around for the 2014 World Cup and qualifying campaigns, allowing them to provide new additions to the team with some continuity and institutional knowledge. So Feilhaber doesn’t serve a continuity purpose and isn’t young enough to be a prospect for a 2018 World Cup run.

    I do think there are “win now” justifications for calling him in — he is indeed having a good season and fills an immediate need on the team. But, honestly, given that the goal is ultimately to assemble a team that can qualify for Russia handily and make a deep World Cup run 3 years from now, I’m not sure his omission is particularly puzzling.

    • It isn’t puzzling, but it gives a reason for a lot of people to get mad at Klinsmann, which seems to be the main purpose of this article. Now that the US has a lot more depth, US soccer fans can waste hours and hours arguing over who should be selected at any particular time. Bottom line is that if you have 10 players who play midfield and there isn’t a lot to choose between them, then small differences or intangibles may come into play and then everybody can argue about the choices made.

      • “US soccer fans can waste hours and hours arguing over who should be selected at any particular time. Bottom line is that if you have 10 players who play midfield and there isn’t a lot to choose between them, then small differences or intangibles may come into play”

        LOL – WAT??!?!?

        Small differences? Benny is CLEARLY in better form than every. single. other midfielder called in save F. Johnson.

        A coach should be a lot of things, and petty should be one of them. Benny is playing he best soccer of his career and has all the things our idiot coach says he desires in a player YET he leaves him off the squad.

        I personally think he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing in regards to personnel and when he speaks to the media about how he sees our players, he’s being conscientiously insincere.

        It blows my mind how he can leave the best midfield player so far this season in MLS… at home… AGAIN.

        Very well written article, Franco.

  16. Can’t explain all those judgement calls, not relevant, won’t try to. No axe to grind, no agenda to push here. Just recognize that, at his age, and with others possessing a similar skill set (or better) you can easily justify leaving feilhaber off.

    Now, as to why we include Evans or Davis or any other past their peek and not great anyway kind of 30+ year old… Don’t know. Coach must like guys with a certain mentality.

    That also explains why he left off Donovan in favor of Davis and wondo. Feel free to disagree with te coach… Just go easy on your keyboards.

  17. “Feilhaber, 30…”

    Well, there you have it. I agree that feilhaber is good and you could justify including him. But it’s just as easy to explain leaving him out.

    • What age was Brad Davis when Klinsmann started bringing him into the national team after he had just a handful of caps in the first 32 years of his life?

      What age is Kyle Beckerman, who Klinsmann brought back into the national team picture?

      What age was Chris Wondolowski when Klinsmann put him on the World Cup roster?

      What age is Brad Evans, who just made the Netherlands/Germany friendly roster?

      What age is Jermaine Jones, who is being tried at CB in an effort to get him to the World Cup THREE YEARS FROM NOW?

      • Well said, but for these Klinsmann apologists and fanboys, no fact will make them change their mind.

      • The outrage is hilarious. It really doesn’t matter if someone else may be better than who the coach takes. A lot of people would be better than Brad Evans, for example, but that doesn’t mean Feilhaber NEEDS to be there. Like I said, I like him, but it’s also easy to see why he wouldn’t be on the team. See my post below for any other issues. I like this site, but this really is a non-starter.

      • Some of these comments are just ridiculous. While we’re at it, let’s start a Call Up Freddy Adu movement. When he has played for the US he has showed as much ability at passing as Feilhaber, maybe more so. Maybe people forget why Feilhaber is in MLS. He basically wore out his welcome, was released from the Danish league. Nobody else wanted him. Now he finally starts to dedicate himself to being a complete player and he’s the best thing since sliced bread. Sheesh.

      • If you are talking about right now, age is not a concern for JK.

        He was 33-34 when he scored three goals in his last World Cup.

        However, if you are talking about the 2018 World Cup then age is clearly an issue.

      • I don’t really think any of these players is a good point of comparison. Klinsmann wants his attacking midfielders to be two-way players who never stop running, and as a result, seems to value speed and physical fitness especially highly in those positions. Because of this, Feilhaber’s being 33 years old in 2018 (and also, having a longstanding reputation for not playing defense) is particularly relevant.

        All of the players you’ve just mentioned have been slotted into roles that don’t require them to play on both sides of the ball. Beckerman’s a pure defensive midfielder who doesn’t usually go deep into the opponent’s territory, Wondo’s a pure striker who’s not expected to track back, and Evans has spent most of his time with the team as a defense-first right back (and was ultimately replaced at the end of qualifying by faster, younger, more athletic players). Davis and Jones were used as midfielders during the 2014 cycle, but look at *how* they’ve been used to date. Davis was a situational player (basically, a left-footed set-piece specialist) who didn’t play in either of the first two games of the World Cup. Klinsmann stuck him in the Germany game, when we were more likely to get a goal off of a set piece than in the run of play, then pulled him after less than an hour and never used him again. Since the World Cup, Jones has spent most of his time either out of the line-up or playing CB, in part because it’s obvious to everyone the Jones isn’t going to be able to be a functional two-way midfielder for the next 3 years.

        In other words, yes, Klinsmann has used aging players at points in his tenure, but generally speaking, he’s used them in roles that are either limited (Davis), or less demanding from an endurance perspective (Beckerman, Wondolowski). And even then, when given a younger, more athletic option of reasonable quality, he’s gone with it (cutting Evans). You can knock Klinsmann for inconsistency in other areas, but here, there’s actually a relatively coherent explanation. Feilhaber’s simply too far along age-wise and plays a position in which Klinsmann is hesitant to compromise on athletic demands.

  18. JK doesnt like Benny. Yes, I think it is because of his tendency to whine at refs the last time he played for JK. He hasn’t been called since. JK calls players in he likes. Benny isn’t one of thise. He likes Mix better even though Benny is far better story.

    This is one of the reasons I want JK gone. He is not willing to pick superior players if he doesnt like them or if they upset his little apple cart. He already has Bradley or Dempsey penciled into that CM spot. Others need not apply. Bradley is not creative enough and Dempsey is not willing to play a lot of defense. Benny is better than both on attack but I doube he will ever get another serious chance

  19. I was wondering about this omission. Benny must have offended his royal highness. We know JK is a petty individual who will allow his personal grudges to influence team selection even at the expense of selecting the best players available. So this isn’t surprising.

  20. If you’re going to give Feilhaber’s personality issues a single line at the bottom of the article, why even bother to include it at all?

    The guy’s demeanor is well documented as a person whom others struggle to get along with. Why bring a guy like that into a situation where the coaches have no time for building cohesion in the first place?

    You want to rue his omission because you like his skill? Fine.

    But don’t pretend to be surprised at that omission when it’s clear what the issue is.

    • So people can’t change? Learn from past mistakes? Benny seems to have settled in fine at SKC. He improved his fitness when the coach made it clear he was not going to see the pitch without it. He is a genuine leader on the team and seems to get along well with his teammates (check out the Benny Feilhaber Show on youtube) and his on the field antics don’t appear to be getting the way of his play, not something you could say in the past.

      Benny has something the USMNT lacks and if JK can’t see it, or won’t see it due to a preconceived notion or grudge, then JK is not a good leader of the USMNT.

  21. Benny admits that fitness is an issue for him, which probably explains why he hasn’t been called by Klinsmann.

    • He said fitness “was” an issue. Vermes doesn’t allow players on the field for SKC unless they are extremely fit. It’s why Benny has progressed so much at SKC.

      • He credits Vermes for turning him into what his game is today. Vermes benched him for the longest time because he wasn’t SKC fit.

      • Okay but then there’s been TWO YEARS of Feilhaber starting regularly for SKC, so why is that relevant?

  22. thank you for this article, Feilhaber may not be the best American soccer player, but he is the best USMNT player. To clarify this seeming contradiction- even when Benny was struggling at NE or in England, he always showed up for the US and was always the best player on the pitch. 2009 and 2010 really proved that out. We don’t have another player able to execute like him. We have players who try to play like him but are not as effective at the Sr level- Torres, Sacha, Mixx come to mind. Klinnsman likes guys who run run run in my mind. That is what he wanted from Sacha who doesn’t play that way, that is what Mixx is forced to do though that’s not his game. JK insists on using Bradley in the 10 spot which is clearly, clearly beyond his ability. very frustrating!

    • “using Bradley in the 10 spot which is clearly, clearly beyond his ability.” Why do you pick on Bradley? It isn’t his fault.

    • Caxamarca

      “ he always showed up for the US and was always the best player on the pitch. 2009 and 2010 really proved that out. We don’t have another player able to execute like him. “

      I saw every game Benny played with the USMNT in 2009 and 2010 and I would say you really have your rose colored glasses on if you believe what you wrote. He would fade or disappear after about 20 minutes. I could never figure out if that was because he was unfit (this now seems to be the case) or because the opposition figured him out.

      Benny is a nice player and I would be fine if he were recalled but any controversy over his omission is an indicator of a very slow news day.

      • the plus minus on US goals with Benny and without prove it out for the Confed Cup and WC those 2 years, we had a team uncomfortable playing to feet which hurts a player like Feilhaber and in turn the team,

      • Plus minus is a sketchy stat for soccer players.

        In Benny’s case he was usually introduced with another player, like Mo Edu for example, at the same time or shortly thereafter.

        In South Africa, Deuce usually moved up to forward when Benny went in.

        So who was more important, Benny coming in and freeing up Clint or Mo solidifying the midfield?

        That is why plus minus is so sketchy.

        It’s a team game. Benny did his job. But the US now has other players who may have more to offer than Benny who can also do it probably just as well.

  23. I’ve always been a Benny fan. Calm on the ball…offensive-minded. I could never quite grasp why he didn’t become a pivotal part of the US squad. Clearly, it must have been his lack of two-way play. Seems he’s over that now…but also 30. Wonder if Klinsi’s holding a grudge while at the same time b/c of Benny’s age figuring he’ll not be needed at next WC phase..

    than again, we do have older players than that ….and he’d only be 33 or 34 at next Cup.

    But if Benny continues to perform, Klinsi can’t ignore him…can he?

    • Because he hates Brazilians; that’s why he flooded us with bottom dweller Germans, including Green, who even got a spot in the WC at the expense of our best ever player.

      • I think he specifically ignored Eric Lichaj because of his Polish heritage… so I am not thinking it is beyond JK… I just get a bad vibe about the guy more and more..

      • ” he specifically ignored Eric Lichaj because of his Polish heritage…”

        Which is why he made Klose and Podolski, Polish German dual nationals, important parts of his Germany teams.

      • not sure where you are going with it, but Benny is Austrian-Brazilian, i.e. Austrian parents, he was born and partially raised in Brazil

      • I seem to remember that Green scored in the World Cup. Also, Brooks, another German American, scored in the World Cup as well.

      • Or maybe he resents having to select crappy players who think they are world class. I think JK has been around enough awesome players to know the difference. As the players from the US could move to Brasil or Germany or even Australia and all of sudden be the best at what you do. It is depressing to see the lack of candor in these postings. I would hope that you could all stipulate that nearly all of the players you are discussing could not make Chelsea, Real Madrid, TOTTENHAM, or even Dynamo Kiev’s starting lineups. That said, how on earth do you insult a man who LED and WON world cup teams and call him a moron…it is rhetorical. I would point out that the attitudes in many of the comments is exactly what annoys the hell out of JK bc you all are delusional even in the face of mounting evidence – which is the US gets beat down by the top footballing countries because our players are inferior – it is NOT JK’s fault. I am certain he wishes he could make the talent pool better. He will need time to do that however not stupid criticisms

    • Perhaps by 2018 we will have players like Hyndman and Zelalem ready to step into that role and they will be in the prime of their careers.

    • Okay but Klinsmann didn’t give Feilhaber a fair shot even before the World Cup, so his problem with Benny isn’t his age. Also see Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman.

    • Eh, poor argument as Klinsmann reintroduced players older players like Beckerman and Wondo to the player pool after he got the job.

    • agreed his is not MBradley, he is much much better than Bradley. Bradley does a lot of things so-so. Feilhaber is an expert, a maestro with possession and seeing the game and delivering the killer pass. MB runs and runs, not a lock down hammer defender, not technical with ability to keep the ball, doesn’t have very good vision, lots of negative passes, hits some good over the top balls a couple times a game and never stops running. He definitely is overwhelmed in the 10 spot even at TFC

      • Gosh, to read your analysis, he never should have been playing in the Eredevisie (where he scored 20 goals one season),Bundesliga or Serie A; he just wasn’t good enough. Those poor foreign coaches who thought he could help their team.

    • He is definitely no Michael Bradley…..because he actual makes an impact on the team he is playing for and doesn’t rely on teammates to carry the team. Giovinco has to work on scoring and assisting for TFC because Bradley is nowhere to be found. Benny leads the league in assists; an outstanding trait for an attacking midfielder, he is involved with the attack, he tracks back on defense, is scoring goals, getting shots on frame and is the heartbeat of his team SKC.
      So you are 100% right, as of now Feilhaber is no Bradley

      • great comments Bizzy, though I see a place for Bradley at times on the roster (he plays his best WITH Feilhaber actually as Benny takes the pressure off him and allows him to run onto the ball like he likes). Let me ask you, what the hell are people looking at when they rate Bradley and not Feilhaber?

      • Caxamarca,
        I don’t know…..I’m trying to figure it out but I can’t put a finger on it.

    • I know you asked Ives, but I am gonna take an opportunity to help you and him here. How about Ibarra, for starters?

    • —Johannsson——Agudelo—-–

      • What is this lineup supposed to imply? Any line up from FRANCE, ENGLAND, HOLLAND, GERMANY, COLOMBIA, ARGENTINA, BRASIL, GHANA, to name a few would stomp this team. Infact, your line up would still loose if any of those countries played with 10 men

        You realy think Zardes is a wordl class player??
        Yedlin can start in England
        Shea – you cannot be serious
        And I think any national team would be happy to mark Agudelo and Johannson

        I thought of 2 more countries – Denmark and Croatia

  24. Klinsmann came in talking about attacking creative players, and immediately started playing with three and sometimes four defensive midfielders (in the early days it was Edu and Jones in the center with Beckerman and Bradley at times, and one of Bradley / Danny Williams on the right). Now he’s down to a more reasonable two DMs (same as Bob Bradley was criticized for using) but he seems to absolutely hate attacking creative type players. He ran Donovan out of the team even after his monster 2013 Gold Cup, favoring scrubs like Brad Davis. He didn’t play Mix Diskerud for a single minute at the World Cup. He never even gave Benny Feilhaber a chance, except for brief appearances in a couple of friendlies. He gave Lee Nguyen a fraction of a chance, he’s used him for less than 90 minutes total in a handful of games. He doesn’t even call in guys like Dillon Powers and Harry Shipp to January Camp. And then when the USMNT has problems creating chances, people blame the player pool.

    • Jk played three dmids and so etimes four because the back line was horrendous. He had to cover for those guys. They learned how to play out of the back. Still arent great at it. But better.

      • +1 Byrdman.

        This seems really simple to me, so if I’m missing something, someone explain. All of the players people whine about JK leaving off can be labeled as “soft” offensive players; “fancy” even. If they get hit, they go down.

        While Jurgen was a flopper, it seemed to have been strategic, not because he couldn’t ride a challenge. He seems to only call in or respect players that once hit, get up and dole out justice – the “get nastier” comment in particular comes to mind. He even lamented the fact that Americans are “too nice”.

        He also spends a lot of words talking about a player’s personal responsibility to commit himself to competition and one’s will to win at all cost. Again, this seems super clear to me. Our offensive players, generally speaking, seem to be ok with losing the ball too easily for his liking. Jurgen the player would TOTALLY stomp someone to steal the ball. I don’t know the man but Lee Ngyuen probably wouldn’t do that. Clint would. That’s why he’s still around. Benny probably wouldn’t. Brad Davis would sacrifice small animals at an alter if the team needed it, thus, he’s on the occasional roster.

        Maybe we’re on to something here. Does Bobby Wood carry a shiv in his sock??

  25. This is not an excuse for JK but may e a reason why he does not gring in Feilhaber. One of JK’s first games, against Mexico i think, Benny was in the midfield. He was playing fairly well, but he continually whined and complained to the ref about physical play. Finally, early in the second half he was tackled /held on a corner kick. never forget seeing him on the ground in the box yelling at the ref and pounding the turf. he did not give up right away nor did he hustle back to help on defense. He stayed on the ground kind of throwing a fit. shortly there after he was subbed off. I dont think he has played much for the USMNT since.

    I agree that JK should give him a shot, but i think JK was a professional as a player, and did not see Benny as someone he wants to count on. I may be wrong, but that game sticks in my memory

    • JK has a dive in the Hall of Shame. World Cup Final 1990 against Argentina, got the ref to give a red card for it too!

      • Germany was vastly superior to Argentina during that tournament and final game. JK is a very, very, very bad coach. But, JK was a very, very, very extremely great player and striker on the field. Argentina won 1986 C with a handball goal. So stop wining about soccer in the USA.

      • Grant,

        JK’s dive got one of the Argentine players sent off.

        I saw the game. What good did Benny’s little hissy fit do for the USMNT?

      • the same that Dempsey does in every game…nothing smfh! We all know that JK snubbed LD because they didn’t see eye to eye and any knowledgeable and non Landon hater knows it clearly hurt the team. Some of the most successful coaches and players have not seen eye to eye all the time but they out their petty differences aside for the greater goal and JK has yet to prove he can do so. We’ll see if these call ups are about giving younger players a test in the fire sort of speak but its crazy to think that BF couldn’t help this team going forward with the way he’s dominated the start of the season.

      • Donovan was a soft lazy California doughboy who quit on the USA during WC qualifying. Stop elevating bad entitlement behavior.

    • Except that JK was a diver throughout his career as a player and he has publicly said he wants the US players to be more confrontational with refs the way Barcelona players are.

      • Nothing wrong about that. South American teams excel in that category. It’s time we start beating them at their own strategy.

      • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it either. I’m just saying I doubt Feilhaber whining to refs got him in JK’s bad books. He encourages that type of behavior from players. He just doesn’t like him for whatever reason. All coaches have their favorites and not so favorites.

      • Hey doesn’t encourage whining to the refs. He encourages dominating your opponent in whatever way you can to win the game, ref be damned. I think that’s pretty clear in his language as a coach and his behavior as a player.

        If your actions are not helping your team – or worse, if they’re hurting the team by being about YOU – then you’re out.

    • BING!

      You hit the nail on the head, man. As talented as Benny is, his attitude and petulance on the field has always been awful. Frustrates me to no end. I don’t blame JK for leaving him off.

      • And for what it’s worth, I think Lee Nguyen does what Benny does just as well, and with a better attitude.

      • And Klinsmann hasn’t given Lee Nguyen a real opportunity with the national team, either, just a few sub minutes here and there.

      • just BS, Benny does not comport himself that way on the MNT. Who is more petulant than Dempsey on the MNT?

      • GW good catch- not at all, I was making the point that people are trying to suppose that that is JK’s problem with Feilhaber, so I was making the point that if that were the case Dempsey would have a problem with JK. Benny as someone else has said s just not a JK guy, JK values physicality over technical ability, he’s really the consummate American coach ironically enough

      • Caxamarca,

        I watched Benny his whole USMNT career and BB gave him every chance possibly including calling him into camp after Benny had his rocky time with the Derby County. And with all that faith Benny went from a starter to a second half to 20 minute sub under BB.

        Benny has his moments but you’d think JK was leaving the American version of Iniesta or Xavi off of the roster. That is just ridiculous.

        JK gave him his shot at one of the January camps, even bringing him to Brazil for two weeks during the 2013 camp.

        So I’m pretty sure JK has a very good idea of what Benny is all about.

        Maybe Benny has changed his spots and I‘m sure he would do a fine job in these upcoming friendlies but, they are just exhibitions and I’d rather find out more about younger, more consistently reliable guys who might actually be around for the 2018 WC, wherever that is held.

      • Dempsey does whatever it takes to win. Sure he complains to the ref, but when he DOES get back up, he puts an elbow in a defender’s ribs a couple times and never gets caught.

        Classic Jurgen behavior. No one wants to mess with Deuce because of his “I will destroy you” attitude. Clint seeks out his justice, usually in goal form. Benny may have in the past sought it out by asking the ref for it. Jurgen clearly admires the former more than the latter.

      • that’s not close to accurate about Feilhaber, that has not been his playing style with the MNT

      • Exept Dempsey scores, and scores and looks like a true player. You are just sniping at anything said against your opinion, and ignoring the reality that Mr. Benny is not the caliber of player that is going to dominate an international game anyway. He has moments. I grant him that much. I even saw him play when he was a kid and thought he was a special player. However, at the international level he has not dominated. Dempsey for what is worth has the same tenacity and will do stepovers and meg people at will and SCORE. Benny leaves alot to be desired and coaches and JK probably has had his fill. Why pick Benny when he can pick some new player who might just shine like Morris did when given the opportunity. I will say there are a hundred or more players in amatuer leagues better than Benny.

      • Dainja are you high?? Feilhaber is a much higher caliber player then Nguyen and is able to break down a defense better then Nguyen. I like Nguyen a lot, but there is not even a comparison between the 2.

      • Surely you mean MLS defenses?? The discussion is about the national team, a thing apart and many notches above the best MLS defense

    • When you review his career, it has been very up and down. When he was overseas he would be a starter for a while and then got demoted to the bench on several occasions. He played for the US national team a lot in 2009 and 2010, including the World Cup, not at all in 2011, and then once a year since. I like his creativity in midfield and thinks he brings a play making ability not too many other US players have. However, I think this article was written just to get people’s interest by having another argument over Klinsmann’s ability as a coach. Because you could say the same thing about several players. Why has he snubbed Lee Ngyuen? Why hasn’t he played Joe Corona more? Personally, I like him better than Diskerud. What about Dax McCarty, captain of the Red Bulls (leadership role) who, I would argue, is as good as Beckerman, and is younger? Klinsmann didn’t play Danny Williams much last year. Why not? The answer is that we have a plethora of good midfielders a and Klinsmann has chosen the ones he is most comfortable with and’/or most confident in.

    • This happened nearly every time he played for the USMNT. Yeah it has to be a chemistry issue. Benny’s talent is clear to see. So is his attitude.


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