BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, January 8, 2010
While currently enjoying a successful season with AGF Aarhus, Benny Feilhaber will be using this month's USMNT camp to not just improve his fitness, but also to provide experienced leadership to an otherwise inexperienced team.
The annual January US national team camp is usually a camp for inexperienced players mostly from MLS but Feilhaber, despite only being 24 years old, arrives at the camp as the most experienced player at the international level with 30 caps; 13 of which were from 2009.
This experience will give him a different set of priorities than most others players at the camp. The most important of these will be to improve his stamina and fitness which can suffer during the three month long winter break of the Superliga season.
"I think this training camp is really important for me to get my fitness back. I think that's always been my number one weakness," Feilhaber told YA. "Whenever my fitness is at my highest level I really tend to play a lot better. I think if I can get good fitness in this camp and help the guys around me become better players, I think it would be a productive camp for me."
This national team camp began on January 5th and will run until January 23rd when the USA will play fellow World Cup qualifier Honduras at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. With the 2010 FIFA World Cup quickly approaching and several roster spots on the US team still unsettled, an opportunity to impress will certainly be on most player's minds.
"It's obviously a friendly so it's a different type of game than the games we played against them in qualifying," Feilhaber said of upcoming friendly. "Everybody is still trying to prove themselves because we are only six months away from the World Cup. On a personal level there is no need for motivation, I think the World Cup is motivation enough."
Next month, Feilhaber will rejoin AGF Aarhus for the second half of the season. The club currently sits in sixth place in the 12 team Superliga.
"Things are good," Feilhaber said of the current season. "I played every game last year except for one where I was suspended. The team is doing pretty well. I think we started off the season well and we had a few bumps down the road. I think we are doing pretty well. I'd like to finish off the year on a high note."
Feilhaber's standing at Aarhus greatly improved last summer when he rejoined the club following his time with the US national team at the Confederations Cup. Despite playing well and helping the US to a very successful second place finish, Feilhaber doesn't feel as if the club success was related to his solid play with the national team.
"I hadn't really played with Aarhus too much before the Confederations Cup," Feilhaber described. "This season after the Confederations Cup I've become a starter. I think they see me differently because I'm playing regularly for their club and working my hardest and trying to do well. I think they see me differently but not necessarily because of the Confederations Cup. "
So while an important second half to his club season and an even more important World Cup both lay ahead for Feilhaber in 2010, for now his focus is on improving his game over the course of the January camp and helping his young teammates get focused for a formidable opponent in Honduras later this month.
"The goal is to have everyone be healthy and ready to play on January 23rd. So there is a lot of time to display what you can do and everyone needs to keep their heads and keep on going no matter what happens," he concluded.