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Sporting KC II names Benny Feilhaber as head coach

The Sporting great is aiming to bring an end to three straight losing seasons for SKC II.

SOCCER: JUN 27 MLS - Rapids at Sporting KC Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sporting Kansas City II announced club great Benny Feilhaber as the team’s head coach on Wednesday.

Feilhaber will take over for Paulo Nagamura, who ended his tenure as SKC II manager in November to pursue other coaching opportunities and has since been named the head coach of Houston Dynamo.

This news comes after Feilhaber joined Sporting’s technical staff last year, leaving his previous position as an assistant coach with the UCLA men’s soccer program. This is the 36-year-old’s first head coaching job in professional soccer.

“The conversation that I had with Peter (Vermes) was one that he showed confidence in me and he knew the kind of person I was,” Feilhaber said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “A person that is very motivated to succeed and continue to help this team grow because I’ve been here for so long and feel like this club has given me so much that I feel like me giving back is something very important to me.”

After three consecutive losing seasons in the USL Championship, Feilhaber will be the first to manage the team in MLS NEXT Pro, which kicks off this March with a schedule and other details to be announced.

Feilhaber, capped 44 times by the United States, spent six seasons of his 15-year career in SKC’s midfield. The 2010 World Cup veteran also won the 2013 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2015 and 2017 with the club, tallying a total of 35 goals and 58 assists in 198 appearances. Retiring in 2020, Feilhaber joined the UCLA men’s soccer program as an assistant coach. In January 2021 the UCLA alum returned to Kansas City, joining the technical staff before being appointed as the head coach of the club’s U-17 team.

Feilhaber said the new league will follow a similar roster build that was seen when the team competed in the USL Championship, which includes opportunities for Academy players, first team players not getting first team minutes, first team players returning from injuries and players signed to SKC II contracts.

The new SKC II manager also has an assistant coach in mind, hoping to have more information in the next few days.