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Benny Feilhaber: American Theo Walcott?

In the recent history of American Soccer no selection of a player to a major tournament squad has elicited as much controversy and quite frankly anger as last week’s selection by Peter Nowak of Benny Feilhaber to the US Men’s Olympic Team. Feilhaber performance this past year with Derby County was beyond the use of any negative adjective at my disposal and after being cut from the US team prior to the qualify tournament it was believed Feilhaber was out of the mix entirely.

But Nowak’s choice perhaps was not as much of a shock as some people may feel. Feilhaber did make Coach Bob Bradley’s initial squad for the full national team friendlies versus England, Spain and Argentina before pulling out with an injury. Additionally, Feilhaber’s technical skill and game changing ability was on display for all eyes to see last year in the Gold Cup final versus Mexico. The Derby County debacle not withstanding, how many Americans can claim to have played in a champions league match at the Emirates Stadium? Just one, and his name is Benny Feilhaber.

But many (myself included) feel Feilhaber’s selection, especially in light of the last minute addition of a similar but more versatile player, Dax McCarty to the squad is a wasted spot much like Sven Goran Eriksson’s selection of Theo Walcott prior to England’s 2006 World Cup Campaign. What are the views of our readers and listeners? This topic is sure to bring our passions from all corners. (For the record let me state I believe the selection of Feilhaber was a mistake and could be costly for Nowak and the US team.)

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  1. derrickinsf

    July 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Oh and no it’s not Walcott because he’ll probably play and second. The World Cup was a much much more important tournament.

  2. derrickinsf

    July 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I’m quite high on him because he’s a technical midfielder and unlike most American midfielders he’s strong on the ball in tight space and he’s a great passer. I like Dax but Dax isn’t the player Fielhaber is.

    It should be noted Fielhaber played fine in the center of the park at the Concacaf Cup. Then Bradley tried to make him a winger moving him wide right at Copa America to allow two defensive midfielders to play together. That was the beginning of the poor play by Fielhaber. Bradley playing him out of position.

  3. Javier

    July 30, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Having a technical player cannot hurt.

    Does he play in the holding midfield role with M. Bradley pushing forward into the center?

    What is Szetela’s role also?

    I think the US has an opportunity to get a long way in this competition. Obviously Brasil and Argentina are the favorites but after that and maybe Italy and Cameroon the US has the best shot.

  4. ivebeenrobbened

    July 30, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Benny lost the plot post after arguably the most techinally skilled goal ever in a knock out match for the US. Sad business. For some reason the US system is not producing creative midfielders who can finish. He looked to be this country’s Deco or Lampard, instead he’s become Jasper Gronkjaer. Bereft of football meaningfulness. Except of course in spicy blog posts. Roll on the ASS-master, KK! If only your middle name was Kinsey. Ho-ho!

  5. Football Detective

    July 30, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I’m with eplnfl and the truth – give Benny a chance.

    The guy’s got talent and an attitude – he’s young. Hopefully, he can let the playing do the talking. As for Nowak, it’s a high risk high reward gamble.

  6. TheTruth

    July 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I think you guys that are killing Benny are dumb and wrong. The goal against Mexico was a World Class goal in a big game, thats more then you can say about a lot of players on the team.

  7. eplnfl

    July 29, 2008 at 12:00 am

    I am very happy to see the great interest in this post. A great sign that soccer and Olympic soccer means something to America.

    As for me, I say give Feilhaber a chance.

  8. Larry

    July 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Feilhaber is the worst.

    The absolute worst.

    I wish he’d never wear the US shirt again.

  9. bandeeto

    July 28, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Feilhaber, and his well developed bench sitting skeelz, are about as usefull to this team as a third goalie, or nipple. Franklin, Alvarez, Hill…. maybe my grandma, would have been better choices. Nowaks a putz for caving in to Bradleys misguided nepotism.

  10. Shakira

    July 27, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    An Israeli team tried to buy him but there was no one who wanted him on loan. The reason he isnt getting playing time at Derby is his attitude in training, PJ wont put up with his crap. If he cut his attitude out he would play Im pretty sure of it.

  11. Phillip

    July 27, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    He did go from living in Hamburg and getting a little bit of playing time with Hamburg to Derby County and getting no playing time.

    Wasn’t there a few teams that tried to take Benny out on loan from Derby last year and Jewell refused? Derby doesn’t even have a reserve team anymore, so he’s literally NOT playing.

  12. Shakira

    July 27, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Well Derby fans couldnt care less that he is going to Olympics. They feel his attitude is the problem and those who have met him around town say he is a jerk. Its too bad, he has the talent but his attitude sucks. For Derby fans they are hoping he does well and puts himself in the shop window.

  13. W27

    July 27, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Feilhaber’s selection is less a waste than Szetela.

    Personally I would have chosen neither, but at least Benny has some technical skill and has shown flashes of being dominant at the full national team level.

    Szetela is simply put a turnover machine. If he were a basketball point guard he’s be shipped off in the NBA or asked to transfer in college. He gives the ball away that much.

    McCarty is a good choice to replace Szetela.

    I would have chosen Gaven or Hill instead of Feilhaber.

    Hill can play on the back line also. He’s versatile and developing more technique.

    Still all in all a strong team we take to China. Benny won’t be the cancer you imply he may be. If he were I don’t care how good he is, Nowak would not have selected him.

  14. Phillip

    July 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm


    Benny came on against Mexico in February and was the best midfielder we had.

  15. Kiwi Yank

    July 27, 2008 at 11:15 am

    If we fail to get out of the group the selection of feilhaber will be blamed.

    He has a bad attitude

    He did not play much for the worst team in EPL history.

    We are short on the backline thanks to him and Sturgis repeated injuries. With Spector being out it would have been wise to take a 2nd overage defender or to select any number of defenders over Feilhber. Sean Franklin, Jorge Flores, Michael Harrington, Hunter Freeman, heck even Eric Brunner down there with you Kartik, at Miami FC could have fit the bill. Instead we have not only wasted a spot as you state but have brought a cancer on the team, a player so arrogant that he picked a fight with Freddy Adu during training in January and was sent home.

    McCarty is a nice addition, but obviously he should have been on the initial squad instead of Szetela and a defender should have replaced Feilhaber.

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