Is It Time to Trade Benny?

FOXBORO, MA - MAY 7: Benny Feilhaber #22 of New England Revolution reacts to an official's call during a game against the Colorado Rapids at Gillette Stadium on May 7, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When both Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union inexplicably decided to pass on Benny Feilhaber in the allocation order last year, things seemed to be lining up for the New England Revolution. Benny was, after all, a World Cup veteran, a creatively skillful midfielder and someone who could be very marketable to the general public. However, things have not worked out well for Benny in New England. In the 39 games since Feilhaber's arrival in Foxboro, New England has won 10 games across all competitions.

This is not to say that Benny is solely responsible for winning less than a third of all games that New England has played in during his time with the Revs. There are many, many, many other issues that have caused New England to remain in the doldrums of the table. Yet, Benny has never seemed to work out well in New England. Feilhaber has provided just 5 goals and 8 assists in his 39 Major League Soccer appearances. Granted he is one of the most fouled players, and he leads the league - in the somewhat auspiciously titled - chances created category. But recently even this production has started to dry up. Part of the problem is that Benny is being used much deeper in almost a defensive midfield-type role for New England - a position that may not be the best use of Benny's talents.

Additionally, there seems to be a disconnect between Feilhaber and Jay Heaps. We have seen Benny get into it with Heaps more than once after being subbed off. After the Montreal Impact game, images of Benny allegedly giving Heaps the middle finger after being taken off circulate around Twitter. This is not something a team expects of its star player. We have even seen that recently, Heaps has seemed to prefer Lee Nguyen in the center of the New England attack as opposed to Benny. There has even been speculation that culturally Feilhaber, a California boy, is not fitting in culturally in the Northeast (I find this one a bit ridiculous as both A.J. Soares and Ryan Guy are also California boys, but I digress).

With Benny's salary and the recent move by the FO that all appear to partially be about dumping salary (Shalrie Joseph to Chivas USA, Jose Moreno back to Columbia), would it really be all that shocking to see Benny traded? Benny is still a big commodity in MLS. He is a favorite of many of the league's analysts, who often wonder aloud why he is being snubbed from men's national team rosters. The fact is that Benny is labeled as one of the more skilled players in the league, which he is, and he could still provide a spark to a lot of teams. Keeping that in mind, couldn't he prove to be a huge trading chip in MLS?

The play of Lee Nguyen (who according to the MLS Player's Union salary list makes much, much, much less than Benny) and the hopeful development of Kelyn Rowe, in conjunction with Benny's salary, and apparently ill-fit with New England and Jay Heaps should lead us to wonder if he should be traded. He could, potentially, be used to bring in a higher caliber right back (Sean Franklin, Sheanon Williams), and the idea of a Benny for Brek Shea trade has been half-heartedly tossed around by fans. And while the Shea trade does seem ridiculous, it could give New England the width it needs as well as provide Benny the opportunity to play and train with David Ferreira, who plays a role similar to what many want Benny to do for the national team.

So it needs to be asked if the Benny Feilhaber experiment is working in New England. Maybe he should be given more time to develop a relationship with Jerry Bengtson. But we also sat around saying he needed to develop chemistry with Rajko Lekic last year, and that didn't work out well either.

The Revolution need to seriously consider using Benny as a chip because the league wide roster freeze is creeping up on September 15th. And in the end, what is best for New England and what is best for Benny might be for Benny to be elsewhere. The best case scenario just might be using Benny to bring in other players. Or, at the end of the day, maybe this is another overreaction to a winless streak.

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