By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- In the minds of everyone in the New England Revolution organization, midfielder Benny Feilhaber was going to either Chivas USA or the Philadelphia Union.
Those were the top two teams in the MLS allocation process. The Revolution were third in the leagues allocation order, which gives MLS teams a chance to acquire the returning U.S. National Team player.
Feilhaber, 26, was a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, and has played the last six seasons in Europe. So there was never really the thought that both Chivas and Philadelphia would pass up on a talent like that.
Speaking frankly, theres no way that we thought he was going to be available, said Revolution vice president of player personnel Michael Burns in a conference call on Wednesday. The 5 oclock deadline kind of came and went, and we didnt get anything. Then all of a sudden I got a call from the league saying that both Chivas and Philly had passed. So we were quite surprised, to say the least.
We just felt like it was an opportunity that we couldnt pass up.
As for why Feilhaber decided to return now, he just felt the timing was right. And hes looking forward to being an everyday starter in the MLS.
I think Europe teaches you things that are tough to learn when youre playing close to home, said Feilhaber in Wednesdays conference call. Its really all about football. Thats the only reason why Im in Europe. Theres nothing else. I think you really learn a lot of things.
I think Im ready to come back. I think the MLS will do something for me that Europe hasnt been able to.
Feilhaber brings plenty of experience to a Revolution club thats looking to become a more mature team on the field. He also brings them improved passing as an attacking midfielder.
Some of the problems we had last year were a lack of experience and passing the ball, said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Wednesdays practice. Hes a guy who, without a shadow of a doubt brings loads and loads of both. It makes sense.
Everyone involved in New England admits this is a rare acquisition. But its one that will bring about a healthy competition in the teams midfield, with Feilhaber surely taking over an everyday starting role.
Well, Im sure there are a couple of guys that are wondering whether its their spot or not, said Nicol. But thats always a good thing.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard