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Waiting pays off for Feilhaber, Revolution

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / April 21, 2011

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When he signed with Major League Soccer, US national team midfielder Benny Feilhaber thought he would be returning to his Southern California home as a member of Chivas USA. But by late Tuesday night, Feilhaber had been claimed by the Revolution. Not that Feilhaber was aware of the deal — he was sound asleep when his move from Aarhus GF in Denmark was announced at about 3:30 a.m. yesterday Central European Time.

“I didn’t know where I was going exactly,’’ Feilhaber said during a conference call yesterday. “Chivas had a big decision to make. I thought there was a good chance I would end up there. But, obviously, in the back of my mind, I knew I could really end up anywhere. It was tough and I was anxious waiting. The deadline passed and I still didn’t know. It was nerve-racking, after Chivas passed and Philadelphia passed, I went to bed. I had a feeling it was going to be New England.’’

Feilhaber awoke to a text message from his agent, Lyle Yorks.

“I hope I never have to go through anything that crazy again,’’ Feilhaber said.

The Revolution had a similarly hectic experience, but vice president of player personnel Michael Burns would be willing to repeat the process for another allocation acquisition.

“It was a strange night, to say the least,’’ Burns said. “The 5 o’clock deadline came and went and, all of a sudden we got a call from the league. We were surprised. We felt it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

“I’m in my seventh season [in administration] and this is the first opportunity we’ve had to acquire a player like this. It’s rare.’’

Feilhaber signed a contract with MLS worth $375,000, then was entered in the allocation process, with teams listed in inverse order of their finish last season.

Feilhaber is scheduled to arrive in Boston today and could be available for Saturday’s game against Sporting Kansas City.

“It was pretty straightforward for us,’’ coach Steve Nicol said. “We lacked experience last year and we needed to be better with the ball. Benny has experience and he’s good with the ball.

“Things happened so quickly we haven’t had too much chance to talk. But we are getting a bit of quality and we’re not going to waste any time getting him on the field.’’

Feilhaber, 26, lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., before moving to Orange County. He performed as a walk-on for UCLA, then was selected for the US Under 20 national team, moving up to the full team in 2007. Feilhaber converted the deciding goal as the US defeated Mexico, 2-1, in the ’07 Gold Cup semifinals in Chicago and played in three games in the World Cup in South Africa last year.

“I just think the timing was right,’’ Feilhaber said of the move. “I’ve had a good time in Europe for six years and my experience was an important one. It improved my football — Europe teaches you a few things that are tough to learn when you’re close to home. You really learn a lot of things and, now, I think I’m ready to bring that back to MLS.’’

Feilhaber had expected to finish the season with Aarhus, then move on as a free agent in June.

“After the World Cup, I thought I would have a big opportunity to move from Aarhus but it didn’t happen,’’ Feilhaber said. “At a certain point I decided it wasn’t necessarily a bad decision to go in the summer time. But then this was such a good opportunity for me, I couldn’t pass it by. The timing was right and I’m satisfied with it.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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