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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Americans Abroad: Benny Feilhaber (AGF)

            In recent years, there has been a huge question mark looming over the footballing career of United States international Benny Feilhaber.  Since migrating to Europe for club play in 2005, Feilhaber has struggled to find the pitch, while his status with the national team has also wavered.  However, with impressive showings for both his national and club teams this summer, the Brazilian-born American is showing signs of a promising future.

            It seems as if Feilhaber has finally found his niche in European football with Danish side Aarhus Gymnastikforening, also known as AGF.  After unsuccessful stints with Hamburg SV of the German Bundesliga and EPL failures Derby County, Feilhaber decided it was time to restart his career in a lower-tier league.  Although getting off to a slow start in Denmark last year, the UCLA walk-on has become a consistent in the AGF starting XI.  Just this past week in a 3-2 Superliga win over Randers, Feilhaber scored the winning goal and was named the man of the match.

            Perhaps most important for his resume, though, was Feilhaber’s brilliant performance in the Confederations Cup.  On the international stage, Feilhaber showed that he is great on the ball, excellent with distribution, and unafraid to take on some of the world’s best defenders.  He made significant contributions as both a substitute and a starter in the United States midfield.

            Since the South African tournament, many have speculated that Feilhaber would be moving to a bigger club this summer.  Over a month later, however, this looks unlikely.  No worries, though.  Expected to be an important piece in AGF’s 2009-2010 campaign, Feilhaber is finally finding playing time in Europe, the key to his consistent international success.  And, despite lacking significant playing time with a club over the past few years, Feilhaber has still shown glimpses of brilliance with the USA squad.  How exciting that it remains to be seen what he can do with a little experience under his belt.

            This coming year may be the most important in Benny Feilhaber’s career.  After suffering inconsistency in form over the recent years and with the World Cup less than a year away, he finds himself in a make-it-or-break-it situation.  If things can continue as well as they have been going lately, Feilhaber should play a major role in Bob Bradley’s squad for South Africa next summer.

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