Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber assisted the game-winning goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team in Friday's 1-0 friendly victory over Jamaica at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Feilhaber, making his first 43rd international appearance and his first U.S. MNT start since January 2012, set up Jordan Morris for the decisive strike in the 59th minute. His club teammate Graham Zusi captained the side for the first time in his career, playing 68 minutes from the right back position.
The Sporting KC duo had a major impact in the Americans’ final tune-up before resuming World Cup qualifying next month. Feilhaber was involved in multiple scoring chances during his 62 minutes of action, while Zusi – earning his 44th cap — contributed to a defensive effort that limited Jamaica to zero shots on target.
Feilhaber crafted the Yanks’ first chance in the seventh minute, delivering a corner kick that was headed just over the bar by Dax McCarty, who was capped for the first time since January 2011. Another Feilhaber corner in the 38th minute resulted in the best opportunity of the first half, with Sebastian Lletget’s curling effort sailing narrowly wide following McCarty’s deft layoff.
Zusi launched into the attack after halftime, barreling down the right flank in the 57th minute and pulling the trigger from a narrow angle, but Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Ryan Thompson parried the ball over the woodwork.
Two minutes later, Feilhaber was involved in a delightful buildup that culminated in the lone goal of the evening. The Sporting KC midfielder corralled a diagonal ball at the top of the box and exchanged a brilliant flurry of one-touch passes with Morris, who finished off the move with a low drive past Thompson.
The result gave Bruce Arena his first win in his second stint as U.S. MNT head coach. In addition to Feilhaber starting his first international match in five years, Lletget, Walker Zimmerman, Jorge Villafana and Chris Pontius all made their first career starts for the U.S.
Feilhaber and Zusi will return to Kansas City before linking up with Sporting Kansas City for its second phase of the 2017 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. The club will participate in the Desert Diamond Cup from Feb. 15-25 at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.