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Peter Vermes is not sure whether Benny Feilhaber will start vs. Timbers

Benny Feilhaber Sporting KC (USA TODAY Sports)


One of the most surprising things that happened during the final round of games in the MLS regular season was a coach’s decision. Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes chose to bench MVP candidate Benny Feilhaber for the crucial season finale, and afterwards explained that he did not think the midfielder could play the entire match.

We might see that happen again on Thursday.

Sporting KC is set to visit the Portland Timbers in a first round Western Conference match on Thursday night, and a decision has been made on whether Feilhaber will be able to start and go the distance. The veteran playmaker was dropped from his regular starting spot in Sunday’s home encounter with the LA Galaxy, but came off the bench at halftime to deliver the game-winning assist in Sporting KC’s 2-1 triumph.

“We’ll see. Not sure yet,” Vermes told SBI as to whether Feilhaber could start and finish the match vs. Portland. “I’m still doing inventory on our guys.”

The 30-year-old Feilhaber finished the regular season with 10 goals and 15 assists while starting in 30 of the 32 league matches he appeared in for Sporting KC. He also contributed during the club’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title.

“He’s played a lot of games this season,” said Vermes. “I didn’t think he had enough in the gas tank for 90 minutes, so it was my intention the whole time to bring him on in the second half because I felt a few things. One, if we’re down, that he’d help us get a goal. If we’re up, he’s been in enough big games and he’s an experienced guy that he’d help us there as well. Pretty simple.”

Two Sporting KC players who will not be in action at Providence Park, but could be back on the field in the near future are centerback Ike Opara and midfielder Roger Espinoza. Opara and Espinoza are recovering from respective Achilles and foot injuries, and have made substantial progress in recent weeks.

It is unlikely that either of them start in the postseason should they be get back to full health, but could feature as options off the bench at some point in the coming weeks.

“Both guys are working really hard, and I’m optimistic that you’ll see one, maybe both,” said Vermes. “It just depends on a lot of different things, and some of it is being sure that they don’t get a setback and the other is that I won’t put them in harm’s way. I’m not going to try and rush them onto the field.

“They both have done a lot of work to get to this point, to get as close as they are now, but at the same time I won’t rush that. I’ll make sure that when they do, if they do, it’ll be the right time and they’ll be prepared for it.”


  1. LOL. Benny is not out of favor with Vermes. These are mind games ahead of a playoff game. Sitting Benny for a half against LAG was also tactically smart. Got him some rest when most scenarios had SKC advancing to the playoffs.

    You geniuses are really onto something…

  2. I think a lot more is being made out of this than probably should be (btw not SKC fan). The Sporks have been playing a 3-5 day schedule since Sep 9th, including an Open Cup. Throw into that Vermes’ propensity for wearing his players out, and a continuation of the 2-game week into the playoffs, I’m not surprised he’s monitoring Benny’s minutes.

  3. I guess reading isn’t fundamental… the article Vermes was clearly quoted as saying Benny has played a lot of games this season thus he’s bringing him off the bench to keep him fresh but ofcourse people want to read into it what they want haha

      • Yeah, I’ve never been a big fan of that “reading comprehension not your strong suit” type of insult. But if this is potentially the LAST game your team will play this season, why rest the MVP? No one still has any clue what’s going on here….

  4. Benny isn’t out of favor with Vermes … He came on in the 2nd half of the game and assisted Dwyer on a clever bit of play … Benny has been amazing since coming to Sporting, and Vermes is a big reason why. No one believes more in Benny than Vermes …

    • You’re telling me that Benny who arguable has had a MVP season for KC and at times putting the team on his shoulders and when it comes crunch time to qualify for the playoffs or go home and he does not start is not out of favor with the coach. Boy, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Vermes doesn’t say Benny has an injury only that he doesn’t have faith in him to go the full 90. Then I would start Benny and pull him just like any star player around the world is played. Benny is certainly in the dog house. For what we may never know.

  5. I think this is a common story with Benny. Something always happens where he falls out of favor with the coaching staff. Im a Revs fan and it happened in New England… now starting to happen with KC. I do not list his problems with JK since a rate JK as a poor coach and poor judge of talent therefore what he thinks doesnt matter

  6. Somehow people will blame Klinsmann for not selecting Feilhaber for the USMNT, thereby not allowing him to gain the additional fitness that comes with training and playing for the USMNT, and ruining his conditioning at the end of the MLS season.


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