The All-Star selection came Monday, a well-deserved and perhaps overdue honor for a Sporting Kansas City midfielder, who, at 30 years old, says he has found the best form of his career.
And so later this month, Benny Feilhaber will travel to Colorado and take part in MLS All-Star festivities for the first time in his five seasons in the league.
“I think it’s probably my best year as a professional, so that would make sense that it’s my first (All-Star selection),” he said.
His best keeps getting better. At least on paper.
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Feilhaber supplied a fourth-minute goal and added an assist to propel Sporting KC to a 2-1 victory Saturday against Montreal in front of 19,070 fans at Sporting Park.
Feilhaber extended his career high in goals (six) and assists (10).
“He’s been one of our most consistent players this year,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “I think for him, it has so much to do with the fact that he’s playing on both sides of the ball very consistently. I think that has changed his game, and people are starting to see the differences.”
Dom Dwyer added the second goal in the 34th minute. Montreal captain Ignacio Piatti got one back in the 59th minute, but the Impact couldn’t put in its limited chances on net over the final minutes.
Instead, Sporting KC improved its unbeaten home mark to 7-0-3. It has won eight straight home matches across all competitions — tying the longest streak in club history.
Sporting KC, 9-3-6, didn’t come up with its best performance Saturday — it lost the possession battle 62-38 percent — but it played with a lead for 86 minutes.
“Anytime we can score early, it completely changes the game,” Sporting KC captain Matt Besler said. “It forces the other team to open up. That’s what happened tonight. Because we got that first goal, they opened up, and that’s how we scored our second.”
Feilhaber was in the middle of both goals.
In the fourth-minute, he put the finishing touches on an early chance for Sporting KC that was ignited when Roger Espinoza forced a turnover only 20 yards from the goal and dished a pass to Krisztian Nemeth, who received his fourth assist of the season on the touch to Feilhaber.
Later in the first half, Feilhaber sent a through ball to Dwyer, who easily converted his sixth goal of the season. Feilhaber’s 10 assists are second in MLS, and he’s only the fourth player in club history to reach that mark. He was replaced by Paulo Nagamura in the 74th minute.
“I don’t think we necessarily played the way we wanted to, which didn’t help our legs,” Feilhaber said. “I think a lot of guys got tired. I got pretty tired in the second half and had to come off. But we fought through it. Mentally, we were strong and got three points.”
That Dwyer was on the other end of his assist served as no surprise.
Dwyer scored six goals in three matches against Montreal last season. The goal Saturday was his seventh all-time against the Impact. Nobody in MLS history has scored more against Montreal.
“I guess I like playing against Canadian teams,” Dwyer quipped.
For the second straight match, Sporting KC started a pair of rookies as its two outside backs. Saad Abdul-Salaam made his second career start at right fullback, and Amadou Dia started at left outside back. The two first-round selections flanked Besler and Kevin Ellis on the back line.
With Abdul-Salaam in the lineup, right back Chance Myers was limited to being a late-game substitute, which Vermes said was designed to keep him fresh for next week. Sporting KC plays host to Houston on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup before traveling Friday to play Real Salt Lake in league play.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Sporting Kansas City 2
MONTREAL: Evan Bush, Ambroise Oyongo, Donny Toia, Victor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Dilly Duka (Maxim Tissot, 84th), Ignacio Piatti, Marco Donadel, Andres Romero, Calum Mallace (Nigel Reo-Coker, 68th), Dominic Oduro (Anthony Jackson-Hamel, 74th).
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia, Amadou Dia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber (Paulo Nagamura, 74th), Soni Mustivar, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson (Chance Myers, 79th), Krisztian Nemeth (Connor Hallisey, 63rd).
Montreal: 3, Piatti 6 (Mallace), 59th minute. Kansas City: 1, Feilhaber 6 (Nemeth, Espinoza), 4th minute. 2, Dwyer 6 (Feilhaber), 34th minute.
Shots on goal
Montreal: Donadel, 84th.
Kansas City: None.
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar.
Assistant referee: Mike Kampmeinert.
Assistant referee: Peter Balciunas.
4th official: Younes Marrakchi.
Announced attendance: 19,070.