You rarely have to worry about getting an honest answer when you talk to Benny Feilhaber. Whether it is a frank opinion on his least favorite team, his admiration for the current coach of the U.S. National team or even how he and Sporting Kansas City have played. Whatever the subject, the answer will be genuine.
When Sporting KC defeated Columbus last weekend, it was an entertaining and dramatic goal for the win but overall it was not their best performance and Benny admitted it. "I don't think we played our best game, it was up and down. We had some really good moments and we had some really bad moments. Giving up a lead when we are up a man isn't something that we can be okay with and if it happens again in the future we may not be able to get three points."
"It's something we've got to work on," Benny continued but he did also see the positive. "There are other things we shouldn't be happy about but the grit to fight and get three points at the end is big. At this point in time three points is really important, first things first, it's important to get the win."
It is rare to see a Sporting KC team not keep fighting and pushing for a win but Feilhaber does not want that to be needed every game. "It's positive but I'll be honest, I don't want to be the team that is always having to fight all the way to the end to pick up a result. Today should have been an easier match. Once we go up two one with a man advantage we should never let them tie and we shouldn't have to fight and claw to the end of the last second to pick up a win, it should be easier than that. I'm not happy with how we were able to get the three points but there are going to be game where you have to fight and claw your way to three points and we are team that will do that game in and game out."
What does Benny think of how Benny is doing?
Feilhaber is coming off of a career year in 2015 where he had 10 goals and 15 assists. This year he has 4 goals with 4 assists and the goal total is helped by him taking most of the penalty kicks at the moment. He still has plenty of time to catch up some of those stats and easily surpass 2014 (4G 6A) but it has been clear (and Benny acknowledges) that he has not played as well as 2015. It may be that he was injured early in the season or just a natural part of the ebb and flow in the life of an athlete or the team around him having changed. Or most likely, a little of all of the above.
So what is Benny's opinion think about his year so far? "Same thing (as the rest of the team), I am trying to fight through it and it's getting better. Kind of going as the team goes right now. I think I am improving, my game is coming. I felt really, really good in the first half. We were down 1-0 but I felt offensively we had some really good moments in the first half. I felt comfortable going forward, connecting and I had some good shots and some decent passes. I am just trying to continue grinding it out. It's getting better though."
Sporting KC and Benny are playing better in the last few games (ignoring Houston in the Open Cup) and for SKC to make a run at a decent playoff spot and post season, Feilhaber will need to be in form.