Sporting KC

Benny’s back: Sporting KC looks for spark by acquiring former standout Feilhaber

Benny Feilhaber rejoins Sporting KC

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber was traded from Colorado back to his former team Sporting KC
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Midfielder Benny Feilhaber was traded from Colorado back to his former team Sporting KC

Sporting KC is looking to an old friend for a boost.

Benny Feilhaber was re-acquired in a trade on Tuesday with the Colorado Rapids for defender Abdul Rwatubyaye and other considerations.

Feilhaber spent five years with Sporting KC, starting with the 2013 MLS Cup title season. None of his teams missed the playoffs.

Sporting is off to a slow start in 2019. Sunday’s home loss to Atlanta was the club’s seventh consecutive match without a victory. Injuries to key players — five starters missed the previous game — have played a major role in the slide.

Now, Sporting welcomes back a talented veteran in Feilhaber.

“Obviously that’s the reason they brought me in: With the injuries that have mounted in the last couple of weeks, months, there’s lack of bodies at this point,” Feilhaber said.

In his Sporting years, Feilhaber scored 32 goals and assisted on 37. After 2017, he was traded to Los Angeles FC, though at the time he was told by Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes that he might not have seen his final competitive days in Kansas City.

“We talked on the phone, but I said the soccer world is small, you never know what can happen,” Vermes said.

Feilhaber signed with Colorado after the 2018 season and had two goals and two assists in nine matches. The Rapids are winless in MLS play this season.

“The year’s been pretty crazy,” Feilhaber said. “I knew it was going to be a process there. ... It didn’t go according to plan and not what I imagined. I’m 34; I don’t know how many more years I’m going to play. I want to be playing on a team that’s competitive and fighting for championships.

“So I was very excited about the opportunity to come here.”

So is Vermes, who likes what Feilhaber can bring beyond his on-field skills.

“Everyone knows Benny can play,” Vermes said. “Benny is not afraid to put people on edge a little bit.”

Some things have changed since Feilhaber last suited up for Sporting KC. The Pinnacle National Development Center, where Sporting trains, opened just after Feilhaber was traded to Los Angeles. And as he was greeting old teammates on Tuesday, Feilhaber was also meeting some new ones.

Still, this felt like home to Feilhaber.

“I know Peter pretty well, I know the system pretty well,” Feilhaber said. “Even the players I wasn’t here with, I know them well because I followed the team. There’s definitely an element of knowing what I’m getting by coming here, and I think the same thing goes for the club getting me.

“I’m hoping it’s a lot of the same as when I was here. We won a lot of things together. It was a really successful five years for me and the club and I want to get back to that.”

In addition to swapping players, Sporting sent to Colorado a 2019 International Roster Slot, $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a natural second-round pick in the 2020 MLS Super Draft. Also, Sporting as swapped positions with Colorado in the Waiver Order.

Rwatubyaye, a 22-year-old center back and member of the Rwanda Men’s National Team, signed with Sporting in March and made two appearances.

According to Sporting KC, Feilhaber will serve as Sporting KC’s season-ending injury replacement player for Rodney Wallace. Colorado will retain the player’s 2019 salary budget charge less the $250,000 of salary budget relief afforded to Sporting for a season-ending injury replacement player.

Sporting placed Wallace on the Season-Ending Injury List. The 30-year-old defender made three appearances this season, including two in the CONCACAF Champions League, before suffering a hip injury.

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