By FRANCO PANIZO
Benny Feilhaber was hardly an every-game starter at the end of the season for the New England Revolution and early offseason signs indicate that his time with the club might soon near its end.
New England signed Mali international Kalif Cisse on a free transfer on Monday, acquiring the 28-year-old midfielder on a free transfer from England’s Bristol City. The move further bolsters a quality Revolution midfield that recently added Andy Dorman, but it also means that Feilhaber will now have an even tougher time trying to earn minutes from head coach Jay Heaps.
The Revolution have not made any statements regarding Feilhaber’s future, but the writing seems to be on the wall. The 27-year-old earned a base salary of $400,00 in 2012, which is too high a figure for a player who is not starting week in and week out.
Feilhaber is still capable of unlocking defenses with his quality passing and good vision, but there are questions as to how much of a defensive liability he is. In New England’s system, he just does not seem to fit. He had just one goal and two assists and was in and out of the lineup in a frustrating 2012.
The Revolution could waive Feilhaber this offseason, but it is more likely that they trade him or even sell him (assuming any foreign club would meet New England’s sell price). Just which club would take him and his hefty salary is anyone’s guess, but there are several teams that could use a midfielder with the creativity Feilhaber possesses.
For Feilhaber to strive, though, he needs to find a near-perfect fit in terms of style of play. Feilhaber is more finesse than he is physical and he needs to be allowed some freedom going forward. Still, he has not managed to boss games consistently enough to be handed such a role without it being given some serious thought.
Where Feilhaber’s future will be is unknown, but it does not seem to be in New England.