The United States men’s national team coaching change will undoubtedly entail a series of ripple effects, and it seems more and more likely that Sporting Kansas City will among the clubs most impacted.
How so? Player call-ups.
In his opening few weeks on the job, new national team boss Bruce Arena has already spoken with Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes “a couple of times.” The topic of those conversations has centered on the prospective player pool.
“I think there’s a chance a lot of our guys could be selected,” Vermes said. “I think at the end of the day, he’ll whittle his numbers down. But he’s interested in a lot of guys on our team.”
While Arena has insisted the player pool won’t feature drastic changes, there will definitely be some, he says. He has repeatedly hinted that Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber will get his first shot since early 2014 after falling out of previous coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s spotlight.
Vermes declined to offer names he has discussed with Arena but nodded when asked if it included multiple players who were not part of the picture under Klinsmann.
Arena has acknowledged plans to hold a January camp and is still hopeful to schedule a couple of friendlies before the resumption of the World Cup qualifying schedule in March.
Defender Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were mainstays on the United States roster under Klinsmann and figure to at least get a shot to keep their spots under Arena, even though Besler recently had surgery to clean up bone spurs in his left ankle.
Feilhaber has been a primary talking point because, well, he talked often about his absence while Klinsmann was the man in charge.
But in an interview with The Star last month, after Klinsmann was fired, Feilhaber said, “Hopefully I can get an opportunity. If I do, I’ll try to seize it. I’ve always said that playing on the national team is a huge privilege. Nobody is given that as a freebie. So it will have to be earned.”