Sporting Kansas City announced today that longtime midfielder and MLS All-Star Benny Feilhaber has returned as a member of the club’s technical staff ahead of the 2021 season. In addition, Sporting has hired Randi Lininger and Eric Schwartz as Assistant Athletic Trainers for the first team.
Feilhaber ended his professional playing career last March, retiring after 15 seasons across Major League Soccer, the German Bundesliga, English Premier League and Danish Superliga. He notably won the 2013 MLS Cup and the 2015 and 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups with Sporting and represented the United States internationally, lifting the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup and competing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“To be back at Sporting Kansas City as part of the technical staff means everything to me,” said Feilhaber, who will report to Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes. “This is the club where I experienced the most success as a player. Peter and the staff invested in me back in 2013 and I look forward to working with them once again. I’ve come to know a lot of great people here in Kansas City—fans, teammates, coaches and the ownership group—and this is a fantastic opportunity for me to give back to the city and the club. I’m very excited to get to work.”
One of the most prolific playmakers in MLS over the last decade, Feilhaber ended his playing tenure at Sporting with 35 goals and 58 assists in 198 competitive appearances. He spent two stints in Kansas City, guiding the club to five straight playoff appearances from 2013-2017 and returning in 2019 for his final season. His 35 goals and 58 assists rank seventh and third on the club’s all-time charts, respectively, and he is one of four players in team history—alongside Preki, Chris Klein and current Sporting defender Graham Zusi—with at least 30 goals and 50 assists.
Feilhaber, 36, bagged 56 goals in over 400 professional matches during a well-traveled club career that included stops at Hamburg in Germany, Derby County in England and Aarhus in Denmark. His MLS journey also featured spells at the New England Revolution (2011-2012), LAFC (2018) and the Colorado Rapids (2019).
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and raised in Irvine, California, Feilhaber represented the U.S. Men’s National Team 44 times from 2007-2017. Among his several U.S. MNT accomplishments, he scored a world-class goal to win the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup final versus Mexico, helped the U.S. to a second-place finish at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and played three World Cup matches the following year in South Africa.
Last August, Feilhaber took the first step of his post-playing career by joining UCLA, his college alma mater, as an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team. Working under head coach Ryan Jorden, he oversaw training sessions throughout the fall after the Pac-12 Conference postponed its 2020 season until 2021. Feilhaber is close to attaining his B-License through the U.S. Soccer Coaching Education program.
As Assistant Athletic Trainers, Lininger and Schwartz will help oversee injury prevention and rehabilitation programs, medical treatments, hydration, nutrition and athletic performance for all Sporting players. They will report to Kurt Andrews, Sporting KC Director, Sports Medicine.
Lininger arrives in Kansas City after serving as Head Athletic Trainer for Rio Grande Valley FC Toros in the USL Championship for three seasons. Prior to joining RGVFC, she was an Assistant Athletic Trainer at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and worked with several organizations as a contracted athletic trainer, including USA Rugby and USA Field Hockey. Lininger earned a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training at Colorado State University-Pueblo in 2011 and a master’s degree in Sports Psychology at California University of Pennsylvania in 2012. This year she will complete her Doctor of Athletic Training from Temple University.
Schwartz previously spent three seasons with MLS club D.C. United, serving as the first team’s Assistant Athletic Trainer in 2020. His time at D.C. began as a Seasonal Athletic Trainer for the first team in 2018 before his promotion to D.C. United Academy Head Athletic Trainer in 2019. Schwartz earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2016 and two years later received his master’s degree in Athletic Training at the University of Arkansas, where he worked with football and volleyball athletes.