Sporting KC

Feilhaber prepares to face former team, New England

Updated: 2013-03-23T05:47:30Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber has never been in this position before.

He’s never played for more than one team in any league he’s played in, so he’s never gone against his former team before.

That was the case before an offseason trade sent Feilhaber from the New England Revolution to Sporting KC, 1-1-1, who takes on the Revs at 3 p.m. today at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

“It will be exciting,” Feilhaber said. “A lot of the guys are good buddies of mine, so I’ve been sending some texts back and forth all week with some of those guys.”

Feilhaber’s final season in New England was forgettable.

He scored four goals with seven assists in 23 appearances (all starts) during his first season with the Revs in 2011, but only managed one goal and two assists in 29 appearances, including 23 starts, last season.

Despite his departure from the Revs, 1-1-0, revenge won’t be on Feilhaber’s mind.

“There’s no animosity from my side and I don’t think there is from either side,” Feilhaber said. “It’s something that didn’t work out as I would have hoped or they would have hoped, so it was a better solution for me to go somewhere else.”

Not that Feilhaber won’t be eager to topple New England.

“It’s special to play your former team,” Feilhaber said. “I think going against the guys you used to play with in training makes it special. You want to prove a point and outplay your old teammates, but it doesn’t have anything to with animosity. It’s more about competitiveness.”

If anybody understands that sentiment, it’s Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes, who was traded twice in his MLS career — from the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars to the Colorado Rapids in 1997 and from the Rapids to the then-Wizards three years later.

“There’s a competitiveness there,” Vermes said. “You can go back and look at my record. I don’t know how many times I ever lost to any of the teams that traded me thereafter. And I hope it’s going to be the same with him.

“You come out there with a little edge — and he should. He should come out there to go crush it, but obviously with intelligence. But any player who’s a competitor wants to go back and put it on his old team a little bit.”

Feilhaber has yet to record a goal or assist with Sporting KC, but Vermes has seen progress as the veteran of the 2008 Olympics and 2010 World Cup adjusts to his new club.

“As I said to him when he came off the field (against the Chicago Fire), this was (Feilhaber’s) best performance in regards to his transitional moments in the game, especially from offense to defense,” Vermes said. “He had a lot of pressure on the ball and made a lot of good decisions tackling-wise, where he won the ball back for us.

“He’s one of the guys who’s still getting a feel for how we go, but you can’t say enough about him when he has the ball. He’s very smooth, very calm and gives us another guy who can keep it.”

Of course, Feilhaber would love to notch that first goal against his former team and take another step forward in his Sporting KC assimilation.

“I’d love to score on either Matt Reis or Bobby (Shuttleworth),” Feilhaber said. “I don’t know who’s going to play, but it would be fun to score on either one of them so I’d have that on them.”

The most important thing, though, is to get a win and the all-important three points in nets in the standings.

“The guys I’ll probably being going up against are some guys I’ve gone against a lot of times in practice,” Feilhaber said. “It will be fun, but it’s not a one-on-one battle. It’s a team thing at the end of the day. I’d love to win it, but it’s not something where I want to win any more just because it’s New England. We need to win because we want to get points.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer

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