Deadline deals are some of the most exciting in sports, and this one looks to be no different. MLS announced today that Benny Feilhaber, most recently of AGF Aarhus, agreed to a contract with the league late Friday night and will be made available to the teams via allocation order.
Feilhaber had received playing time for AGF Aarhus, but as a second division Danish team Feilhaber was not receiving the exposure to top-flight soccer he may have hoped he would receive. In addition, despite playing in the most recent World Cup, his spot on the U.S. national team has been threatened by a few younger players like Mikkel Diskerud. Receiving regular playing time in the United States in a better league in front of Bob Bradley is a good way to remind him and American soccer fans that is a world-class player.
So where is Feilhaber going to play? The first three teams in the most recent allocation order are Chivas, Philadelphia, and New England. The Goats recently turned down an opportunity to sign English winger Jason Barton to possibly maintain their chance to sign Feilhaber. He played his college soccer at UCLA, so it would be kind of a homecoming for him. But Chivas has declined to discuss acquiring him until after Saturday’s match, and there is some question how Feilhaber would fit into Robin Fraser’s system. The Union have already said they are not interested in acquiring Feilhaber, but whether that is a smokescreen is unknown. New England already has an attacking midfielder in Shalrie Joseph, but could certainly accommodate him in the starting XI.
Regardless of where he plays, this is a great acquisition by MLS. The league should be a place for U.S. national team players and prospects who are maybe just below the top European leagues (and who knows maybe eventually compete with the top leagues). Grabbing players like Feilhaber not only makes the league more viable, but helps make those USMNT players more visible to American soccer fans.