On a red-hot afternoon in which Children's Mercy Park hosted its 100th MLS match, Benny Feilhaber paced Sporting Kansas City to a precious 2-0 victory over FC Dallas.
The result, coupled with several other favorable outcomes throughout MLS this weekend, lifted Sporting KC from eighth to fourth in a crowded Western Conference table. Feilhaber led the way Sunday with a penalty kick and an assist for the second straight game, having done so just four days earlier in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Minnesota United FC.
Feilhaber's big week presents two different narratives. First and foremost, it may have provided the kickstart Sporting Kansas City needed for the second half of the season. Heading into the Copa America break two weeks ago, the club had just one win in 11 games. Since resuming their campaign last Wednesday, Peter Vermes' men have two wins from two. Feilhaber was the conductor to Sporting Kansas City's successful 2015 campaign and continues to hold the keys going forward.
Secondly, his last two performances shed light on a pair of noteworthy statistical trends. We begin with Feilhaber's record from the penalty spot in Sporting Kansas City colors. The midfielder has attempted 11 penalties since joining the team in 2013, including shootouts in the 2013 MLS Cup, 2015 U.S. Open Cup Final and 2015 Western Conference Knockout Round. His spot kick record? A perfect 11-for-11.
BENNY FEILHABER PENALTY KICKS FOR SPORTING KC
|1||12/07/2013||Goal||Real Salt Lake||T 1-1*||MLS Cup Final|
|2||04/25/2015||Goal||Houston Dynamo||T 4-4||MLS regular season|
|3||05/20/2015||Goal||New England Revolution||W 4-2||MLS regular season|
|4||06/06/2015||Goal||Seattle Sounders FC||W 1-0||MLS regular season|
|5||08/08/2015||Goal||Toronto FC||W 3-1||MLS regular season|
|6||09/18/2015||Goal||FC Dallas||W 3-1||MLS regular season|
|7||09/30/2015||Goal||Philadelphia Union||T 1-1*||U.S. Open Cup Final|
|8||10/29/2015||Goal||Portland Timbers||T 2-2**||MLS Cup Playoffs|
|9||04/02/2016||Goal||Real Salt Lake||L 1-2||MLS regular season|
|10||06/15/2016||Goal||Minnesota United FC||W 2-1||U.S. Open Cup|
|11||06/19/2016||Goal||FC Dallas||W 2-0||MLS regular season|
* Won shootout
** Lost shootout
As impressive as Feilhaber's penalty kick record is, it's only a small part of what's made him one of Major League Soccer's best midfielders over the last few seasons. And arguably no team has suffered more against the playmaker than Sunday's victim, FC Dallas.
A six-year MLS veteran, Feilhaber has tallied 25 goals and 37 assists during his regular season career. His four goals versus FC Dallas are his most against any other team, as are his five assists against the Texas club. The 31-year-old has scored or assisted in six straight MLS matches against FC Dallas, all as a member of Sporting Kansas City. Throw in a U.S. Open Cup game in 2015, and Feilhaber has four goals and seven assists in the last seven meetings with Oscar Pareja's side.
BENNY FEILHABER REGULAR SEASON GOALS & ASSISTS BY OPPONENT*
|4 - FC Dallas
3 - Colorado
2 - Columbus
2 - Chicago
2 - Houston
2 - New England
2 - Real Salt Lake
|5 - FC Dallas
4 - Toronto FC
3 - Houston
3 - Montreal
* Minimum two goals, three assists
Despite enjoying a productive week that yielded two goals, two assists and most importantly two wins, Feilhaber remained tempered and forward-thinking in the aftermath of Sunday's triumph, well aware that Sporting Kansas City has more work to do.
"I don't know if I'm hitting a groove, but I'm definitely trying to grind through it," Feilhaber said postgame. "Obviously it hasn't been a good patch for our team or myself the last month or two. So that's the mentality of all the players right now. Just fight through it and we'll come out all right on the other end."