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Feilhaber copes with limited action
by Mike Woitalla, February 12th, 2008 6:45AM
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[AMERICANS ABROAD] Benny Feilhaber, who turned 23 in January, has already made 15 U.S. national team appearances. He scored the 2007 Gold Cup winner and has been in Europe since 2005. But he's now struggling for playing time at English Premier League last-place club Derby. Soccer America's Mike Woitalla spoke with Feilhaber after his 27 minutes of action against Mexico last Wednesday.

"The transfer window is closed in Europe, so I'm looking at some possibilities in MLS and Scandinavia -- places that are still open for a possible loan deal," said Feilhaber, who has made one start and seven
appearances as a sub since joining Derby last summer from Bundesliga club Hamburg SV. "I'm keeping my eyes open and have some options."

Since the new year, Feilhaber has been on the field only five minutes for Derby, which is 13 points deep in the relegation zone and has already made one managerial change (and an ownership change) this season.

"Obviously, I'm part of Derby County FC and I'm trying to earn a spot on the team," Feilhaber said. "Whether it takes a day or four months, you never know, so you just gotta work hard everyday in training and hope for the best."

Feilhaber, who was born in Brazil and moved to Southern California at age 6, played two seasons at UCLA before representing the USA at the 2005 U-20 World Cup. He then signed with Hamburg SV, and played 30 reserve team games his first season before breaking into the first-team during the 2006-07 season.

Feilhaber played nine First Division games for HSV and played in three Champions League games. But when Dutchman Huub Stevens replaced Coach Thomas Doll, Feilhaber went back to the reserve team.

Derby paid HSV a transfer fee of about $2 million and signed Feilhaber to a three-year contract. In November Derby, which has won just one game this season, replaced Billy Davies, the man who signed Feilhaber, with Paul Jewell. Jewell signed midfielders Robbie Savage and Laurent Robert.

Feilhaber's lack of club playing resulted in losing his U.S. starting spot. In 2007, he had started 13 games for Coach Bob Bradley, including three Gold Cup and two Copa America matches.

He started the last three friendly games of 2007, against Brazil, Switzerland and South Africa. But in the 2-2 tie with Mexico, Bradley, in the central midfield, started Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley, whom Feilhaber replaced in the 63rd minute.

"I was brought in to try and keep the ball as much as I could," Feilhaber said. "I thought I did that all right for the first 15, 20 minutes, but then we really got pinned down a little in the back. It felt good to be out there. It was nice to be playing again."


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