Beyond the Box Score: In-form Feilhaber fast to five assists

In a season of mixed results thus far for Sporting Kansas City – nine points through seven games and a tie for fifth in the Western Conference standings – one player may have separated himself as an early team MVP and MLS Best XI candidate.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber sits atop the league’s assist chart with five, at least two more than any other player. His latest set-up came in Sporting KC’s last-minute defeat to LA Galaxy on Saturday night, when the 30-year-old veteran one-timed an entry pass from Dom Dwyer into the path of Krisztian Nemeth for a first-half equalizer.

From a playmaking perspective, Feilhaber is off to one of the best starts in club history. On Saturday, he became the second fastest player to reach the five assist mark, doing so in his seventh league appearance of 2015. Feilhaber’s role in Krisztian Nemeth’s 22nd-minute strike also marked the second time in Sporting KC history that one player has assisted five of the team’s first seven goals in a season.

The only other player to accomplish these feats? Winger Graham Zusi, who needed just four games to reach five assists in 2012 and also set up five of the club’s first seven goals that year.

Quickest Sporting KC players to five assists (MLS regular season)

Year Player 5th assist
2012 Graham Zusi 4th appearance
2015 Benny Feilhaber 7th appearance
2002 Stephen Armstrong 7th appearance
Mo Johnston
9th appearance
9th appearance
9th appearance
2001 Chris Klein 10th appearance

With 27 regular season matches still to play in 2015, Feilhaber is two assists shy of equaling his career-high, set in 2011 during his first MLS campaign with the New England Revolution.

Not surprisingly, the MLS assist leader ranks near the top in chances created through Week 7. Feilhaber has also shown ball-winning combativeness in the center of the pitch, ranking in the top seven among MLS midfielders in recoveries, duels won and tackles won.

Benny Feilhaber in 2015 MLS regular season (stats through April 18)

Stat # Rank
Chances created 16 5th (four off lead)
Chances created 
from set play
7 3rd
Chances created
from open play
9 8th
Touches 459 8th
Recoveries 61 4th among
Duels won 43 7th among
Tackles won 17 6th among

Throw it all together, and Feilhaber is on pace for a career year in Sporting blue and perhaps a few postseason accolades.