Benny Feilhaber was in the average of his available affair aback he abstruse of his barter to Sporting Kansas City in backward 2012. After accepting the buzz alarm in his auberge in Las Vegas, he referred to the move as the alpha of a career resurgence.
Indeed, it was.
Nearly six years later, advanced of an advancing acknowledgment to Kansas City, Feilhaber has yet to aberrate from that perspective. Except now it’s a affair of the past, transferred bottomward a band on his resume.
“Kansas City is area I enjoyed the best bristles years of my career,” he said in a buzz account with The Star. “So, yeah, I’ve anticipation about this for as continued as the agenda has been out. It’s activity to be appealing appropriate to appear back.”
Feilhaber will acknowledgment with his new club, Los Angeles FC, to face Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. On the final day of the MLS approved division — “Decision Day,” the alliance dubs it — the two fast-charging teams will comedy for the No. 1 playoff berry in the Western Conference. The also-ran could abatement as far as fourth place.
As anon as the alliance appear its schedules, Feilhaber scanned LAFC’s calendar, in chase of the cruise to his above home. He spent bristles years in Kansas City, scoring 29 goals and recording 41 assists in MLS play. He won the 2013 MLS Cup and a brace of U.S. Open Cup tournaments. In 2015, he bankrupt a authorization almanac with 20 assists above all competitions and was a finalist for the alliance MVP.
But Sporting KC traded him to his home accompaniment in the offseason, accepting $400,000 in allocation money to re-invest in the roster. Partially with those funds, it acquired appointed amateur Felipe Gutierrez in Feilhaber’s old position.
In Los Angeles, Feilhaber wears No. 33, allegorical of his age. He’s set career highs in games, starts and minutes.
The final date on the agenda comes in a accustomed spot. And it’s for the top atom in the West.
“It’s about as if the schedule-maker did this on purpose,” Feilhaber joked. “I’m abiding they didn’t, but that’s what I like to anticipate about it. It’s been so far abroad that it’s been a continued time anticipating it. It’s funny how it’s all appear together. It’s either activity to be us, or it’s activity to be my ex-team and my ex-teammates. It’s article I’m aflame about.”
He keeps in blow with several of his above teammates. He texts about every day with apostle Ike Opara. He exchanges letters with Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Tim Melia and Roger Espinoza, he said.
And that’s the basis of what makes Sunday’s bout unusual. At atomic for Feilhaber. He’s well-traveled, with six stops in his career. After accepting him from New England, Sporting KC assuredly offered stability, a abode that acquainted a absolute match.
So Sunday’s d will mark the the aboriginal acknowledgment he has looked advanced to authoritative a return.
“When I went aback to comedy New England, I never anticipation about annihilation added than absent to drove my old team,” Feilhaber said. “With this, it’s different. There’s the aggressive ancillary of me — of advance I appetite to win and accomplishment in aboriginal place, and if that agency potentially putting them in fourth place, that’s what it means.
“But alongside to that is the activity of advancing aback to area I spent the best bristles years of my career and arena in advanced of those fans. I’ve never had that in my career, so it’s activity to be appropriate and surreal.”
He expects some chants from the crowd, accurately The Cauldron, application the arctic end of Children’s Mercy Park. “Whether the chants are absolute or negative, I apperceive how they feel about me,” he says.
Feilhaber has been a key allotment of amplification ancillary LAFC’s success. Nobody has been on the acreage more.
But he’s application a new role on the West Coast, affective aback in the midfield to the No. 6, a position captivated in Kansas City by Ilie Sanchez. Feilhaber said he watches Sanchez comedy in hopes of acquirements article about the position. In fact, he watches about Sporting KC match. It can accomplish for an awkward examination experience.
“It’s adamantine to describe,” he said. “Because on one hand, I appetite my ex-teammates to do well. But you don’t appetite them to do as able-bodied as you’re doing. It’s allotment of that aggressive rivalry. It’s adamantine to describe. I accept so abounding accompany on the aggregation and I affliction for them, but I still appetite to get the bigger of them.”
Sam McDowell covers Sporting Kansas City, the Royals, Chiefs and sports action for The Star
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