Benny Feilhaber (right) and Landon Donovan celebrate after the USA scored against Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals on June 24, 2009, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SANFORD, Florida -- Perhaps no one was more surprised to be called into the United States camp ahead of two vital CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup than midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
His last international appearance beyond the team’s annual January camps was in a friendly against Poland on October 12, 2010.
"For me, a real shock to be here, to be honest," said Feilhaber, who has played in six career WCQ games. "I didn't expect to get this call, but I'm here to do whatever I can for the team and help us qualify. It's an exciting time."
With the fourth-place U.S. (2W-3D-3L, 9 points) needing at least four points to keep its CONCACAF Hexagonal hopes alive to qualify for Russia 2018, head coach Bruce Arena selected 17 Major League Soccer players on his 25-man roster.
Asked why he summoned Feilhaber, Arena replied. "Just watching him play, and the kind of form he's in and the kind of qualities he continues to have, and thinking that in a game there may be situations where we can use his skills."
Feilhaber, 32, who is Sporting Kansas City’s attacking midfielder, has earned 43 caps, two of which came as a substitute at the 2010 World Cup.
He will try to boost the Americans, who host Panama in Orlando, Florida, on Friday night and visit Trinidad & Tobago on October 10.
"I'm just trying to do the things that are my strengths, and that's creating opportunities for the strikers, our wingers, trying to combine with the midfield, open up space, and trying to get into the attack as well," finished Feilhaber. "At this point, it's really anything that can help to get three points is what's important."