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Pursuing Feilhaber

Through e-mails, phone calls and text messages, I've been following USA midfielder Benny Feilhaber's situation closely the last few days -- not his status with the Olympic team in China, but his future employer.

Now I can tell you what club is aggressively chasing him: AGF Aarhus of Denmark. Derby County would be more than happy to let him go on a free transfer because it would mean dumping his salary. Aarhus already has one American (forward Jeremiah White) and just signed a Guatemalan (defender Gustavo Cabrera).

One source with strong European ties says Aarhus is very serious about signing him at the conclusion of the Olympics.

Denmark is certainly not England, but given Feilhaber's dead-end situation with Derby and seemingly lukewarm interest in him elsewhere on the continent, what do you think of a possible move to Aarhus?

By Steve Goff  |  August 11, 2008; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Olympics , U.S. men's national team  
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Comments

As long as he's playing regularly, that sounds great. As a USMNT supporter, he's a big question mark in my mind. Until he's playing every day, he can't be in the big team picture.

Posted by: JkR | August 11, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Benny needs to play matches and to be paid by a club team. Only Dominic Cervi can make a career out of not playing matches while travelling with a national team. ;-)

Posted by: Postmaster | August 11, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Feilhaber is overrated

Posted by: Freddy Adu | August 11, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"...and just signed a Guatemalan (defender Gustavo Cabrera)."

Is this the very same Gustavo Cabrera that played for RSL back in 2005?

Posted by: ravenrooney | August 11, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Yet another downgrade for a young American player. Shame, but best of luck to him.

Posted by: Kev | August 11, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Great scoop, Goff. Thanks for keeping us in the know.

Posted by: jpeace121 | August 11, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

gotta play where you can play, I guess.

Posted by: downtown | August 11, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

He needs to suck it up and play where someone wants him. Denmark is better than Israel.

Posted by: DRB | August 11, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

@Kev | August 11, 2008 3:51 PM

To sound like a stockmarket guy (which I'm definitely not), it's not downgrade, but a correction. Feilhaber was over-valued. He played well at UCLA, impressed some scouts in Germany, and had a cracking Gold Cup goal. That sums up his CV.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 11, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I hope mls is at least an option in all of this. maybe he thinks Denmark is a better opportunity to restore his reputation and bounce back to a better club (and climb back into the national team picture)? I have no idea if that's true or not, seeing as how I know nothing about Danish soccer.

Posted by: stairs | August 11, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I see your point there 270 - I suppose I'm being too literal and situations are complicated. But when these guys get looks in bigger leagues, I'd be more encouraged if they stayed. Feilhaber might not be the best example but I'm still discouraged by Onyewu not staying in England. Now Gooch can't seem to get out of the Jupiler League.

Posted by: Kev | August 11, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I think no one would say Feilhaber was slumming it if DCU had added him to their midfield. In that regard, getting (actual) playing time (on a soccer field) in a European league with the opportunity for UEFA Cup or Champions League play is a step up....certainly from MLS (especially in the wages department) and probably even from Derby.

Posted by: DWE4 | August 11, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I suppose Aarhus might be on the up, but they haven't been good in ten years (just took a cursory look at their wiki page). So they're not going to Europe anytime soon. I don't think that the second tier of the Danish league is a better opportunity than the ultra competitive English Championship. But that's just me

Posted by: Kev | August 11, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

If I remember correctly the reason Feilhaber isn't playing in MLS on a loan because Derby wanted a "big" fee for the loan. When MLS' season was starting it was already clear Derby was going down so what made them willing to let him go for free now?

Posted by: dwbpnm | August 11, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Denmark makes more sense for him at the moment then MLS does because if he performs well there then it's still much easier for him to be noticed and picked up by a bigger European club. If things don't work out there, he'll probably have to play the rest of his career in MLS.

Posted by: Max | August 11, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

What would an unproven player like Benny expect to make playing in MLS? How do you value him? What's his best position? Is he worth more than Noonan? Why or why not?

MLS (and I hope DCU) can't sign guys like this. Too much (financial)risk for speculative reward.

European clubs have money to stockpile players with 'potential', MLS doesn't.

Posted by: JkR | August 11, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

DWE4 I would say while Denmark will pay him more it is at best equal to MLS in quality. Playing in the UEFA Cup or Champions League for teams in leagues like Denmark is incredibly overrated. They rarely make it through to the group stage which means at best they get two games against a team from a top league, but more often its two games against teams like Slavia Prague or Thun. How are those opponents an upgrade over MLS?

Posted by: dwbpnm | August 11, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

WOW! One team that I actually follow...(I know, I know, an odd league to be following, but GF is a good friends favorite club).

Unfortunatley GF have not been very good for some years. I hope that Benny gets into better game shape playing there. He's only 23 and I was hoping he'd have a bright future for the UMNT.

Posted by: Redd | August 11, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I hope someone who needs him takes him. I don't know anything about the Danish League, but since we've got so many American's playing in Scandinavia, why not another? What could it hurt?

Posted by: TCompton | August 11, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 11, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Aarhus ... in the middle of the street ... Aarhus


sorry, someone had to.

Posted by: Lonnie | August 11, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Pablo Honey... Please come to MLS.

Posted by: Sol R. | August 11, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Well I can say that i am an agf fan from denmark, and just heard about Benny being rumoured to my club.. First of all I doubt that agf will be entering, any European cup, any time soon.. They have been battling for relegation for the past 10 years at least. Never the less, it might be a good career move, to step down one notch. I just dont think that agf would be the right choice for him, to be honest. Even tho jeremiah white, have been in the USA national troup. I dont think he should move to a club, where they really "depend" on him to preform well, as im sure a lot of agf fans would do, rather move to a club, where he could be bought, as a sub for starters, and make him fight his way back into the team..

Posted by: Dan | August 11, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, I´am a AGF Aarhus supporter from Aarhus. AGF is a old very club, with a lot of spirit and tradition. The is really pushing hard to get back in the top of the danish leage, and in to Europe. I think, and hope that in a few years time, we will get there.

I would wellcome a player with his quality.
Can you describe him as a player?

Posted by: Balder | August 11, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

He's a playmaker. Good possession skills, good vision. Not much of a defensive oriented player.

Posted by: USAfutbol | August 11, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Aarhus ... in the middle of the street ... Aarhus

sorry, someone had to.

Posted by: Lonnie | August 11, 2008 4:41 PM
-----------------
That's good stuff, Lonnie. I like how you think.

Posted by: Joe Doc | August 11, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Good for Benny. A move out of his hopeless situation at Derby County was an absolutely necessary first step.

Posted by: garbaggio | August 11, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Well he couldn't stay at Derby and from the Aarhus fans it sounds like they might be looking for him to be an important player. Maybe he'll be given the chance to impress and can later move on to a "better" league.

Or he'll show that he really isn't anything special...

Posted by: laur | August 11, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I am also a AGf fan and i live in Aarhus. I think it's great if Benny joins the team. It might be a great move for his career many big clubs in Europe is looking very closely at the danish league and at AGF. A good example is Jeremiah White who went to bee a national team player from a almost unknown player!

Posted by: Jacob | August 11, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Aarhus... in the middle of Jut-land
Aarhus...

etc.

Heh heh.

Posted by: Eric in Baltimore | August 11, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

He just might be overrated as some say, but I hope he comes up big against Nigeria, we need him to show up - big time.

Posted by: freddie footballer | August 11, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I would rather see him go to the Eredivisie in Holland. I think his skills blend in well with that league and he will get lots of playing time there. It's above the Danish league and very competitive.

Posted by: Orange14 | August 11, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

All these tranfers going all over the world not a single US player except Altidore to Villareal has good transfer moves. What a depressing. Talent sucks, no one wants them. When can this miracle happen?

Posted by: td | August 11, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Wow, his career continues to deteriorate. I really hope he can turn this situation around, find a bottom wherever he lands, and start building from there.

To go from Hamburg and Champions League to AGF Aarhaus in 2 seasons is just depressing.

Posted by: Eugene | August 11, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

If he can be a regular starter at AGF, and AGF continues to be a 1st division club, then this is a good "re-start" for Feilhaber. He's still young, Denmark is apparently a pretty nice place to be, and it seems that the big clubs in Scandinavia are very quick to poach from their competition (remember Robbie Russell jumping from obscurity to playing for Rosenborg in the Champions League?). If Feilhaber has a good season this year, he could find himself at a bigger club relatively quickly.

Of course, these days, being a young American on the national team means that you can make the same exact jump while playing in MLS (Adu, Dempsey, Johnson, Altidore). It seems like Feilhaber doesn't really want to be here, though, so what can you do?

To the AGF fans:

Feilhaber is a central midfielder, but can also play on the right. He is a playmaker, but doesn't play as high up the field as a typical #10 does. He's got a good long shot that he doesn't use often enough, and a good range of passes. He can linger on the ball too much, and he's not going to dribble past that many people. He will do best in a pass-and-move environment (which is probably why Derby was the worst place for him to be last year).

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | August 11, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Here is a quick summary of Feilhaber's career

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcGA2W4d5_E

This video still gives me chills. He also started(or atleast played) in the champions league.

Posted by: DRB | August 11, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Uh, for everyone saying "oh my, what a disaster, career suicide", etc., his other "options" seem to include Israel and, maybe, MLS. Denmark is somehow worse than these? Sorry, don't buy it - this is a good move for him considering what's available. Clubs with the quality you seem to seek are not going to pay for someone with a big gap in his resume, not matter how much "potential". Ask Cory Gibbs, or John O'Brien.

Posted by: C. Hawk | August 11, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Moreno goal of the week nominee. Vote
http://dcunited.mlsnet.com/sights/goal_of_the_week/

Posted by: td | August 11, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Benny needs to start from the ground and work his way up if he hopes to get back into the spotlight. Maybe some quality minutes in a smaller league will help him refocus.

Posted by: MK | August 11, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

As a Danish-American it's always bittersweet for me when American players go to Denmark. On the one hand, I get to see some of my fellow countrymen playing in my motherland but on the other, I have to listen to Americans slam the quality of Danish league. It's a moot point anyway though because until American teams can pay players a real salary, Denmark will always be a more attractive option for many players. And for what it's worth Aalborg will make it to the group stage this year.

Posted by: Eric | August 11, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Guys, it's not Ireland and I'm happy.

Posted by: Ted | August 12, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

I am also a big fan of AGF and I can assure you AGF wouldn’t try and sign this player if they did not think he has the potential to play in a bigger league. In Danish soccer the easiest way to attain at least fiscal success is selling players to bigger clubs. So if the team has its will he probably won't be in the Danish league for the rest of his career, they will do everything in their power to help him make it to a bigger league.

All he has to do is perform well, and not get hurt then I think AGF can be a great steppingstone for him. If he is any good of course.

@ravenrooney

Yes, it is the same Gustavo Cabrera. They bought him as a backup though.

Posted by: Jacob | August 12, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm Danish but not an AGF fan. I think AGF i on the right track and they have made some great signings this season. They have been strugling with a culture change in the club and have rebuild the club so it's now got a healthy economy and is moving forward.

AGF have signed Nando Rapfael a German/Angolan striker from the German club Borussia Monchengladbach, Dan Tomassen, a central defence from one of the biggest clubs in Norway, French defence Arthur Sorin from the Swedish club Kalmar FF and Gustavo Cabrera from Guatemala.

I have also read somewhere that according to UEFA predictions the Danish Superliga will be in the top 11 in Europe within a few years. Right now Danish clubs are buying the best players from clubs Norway and Sweden.

It is of course a step down from premier league, but it could be a lot worse. In AGF he can become part of a success within the next year instead of watching games in England.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nando_Rafael
http://www.betinf.com/denmark_transfer.htm

Posted by: DK | August 12, 2008 5:04 AM | Report abuse

i´m also one of many AGF supporters finding my way to this debate. I believe that af move to AGF can be a good choice, but Feilhaber has to be sure i has got the mentals skills to make it big, in one of the most football crazy cities in Denmark. Though the team has been strugling the support has alway been there. And supporters as well as the media follows the club as if it was a much bigger and better club.

Some players find it hard with all that attention, other love it.

As an AGF supporter I cross my fingers, and hope Feilhaber will find the club interesting, and hopefully his career can get back on track in the lovely town of Aarhus ..... in the middle of the country :-)

Posted by: AGF CPH | August 12, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

To your information: According to part of Danish press, rumors states that Benny Feilhaber has signed a contract with AGF for three years in the white jersey. Free transfer with a big sign on fee. It's not confirmed yet by anyone.

In Danish:(http://www.sport8000.dk/newsposts/423-amerikaner-faar-tre-aarig-kontrakt-med-agf)

Posted by: DK | August 12, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I would rather see him come back to MLS. Some think coming back to MLS from Europe is the death of a future Euporean career, but I don't. Look at Cooper, he excelled and now he is on the brink of a transfer back to Europe.

MLS is by far a more scouted league now then it was a few years ago. IMO his best option for making the national team is to come back home and show Bob what he has in person.

Posted by: bob | August 12, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Who would have thought there were so many Danish people reading washingtonpost.com?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Dang, the Danes are in the house! Will there be a Danish Viking tailgate at future DC United matches?

Welcome!

Posted by: JkR | August 12, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

@ Jkr and Anonymous

We AGF supportes are just very enthusiastic and picks up news about the club no matter where they are hidden on the internet. So we pay You a visit, but don't be alarmed; The Vikings of today are nice and harmless ;o)

It is nice to learn "first hand" info about a potentional player.

greetings

Posted by: john DK | August 12, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I am also a big AGF fan...


We got a chant to Jeremiah White: I think you know it.. Sing along with me

USA USA USA! USA USA USA! USA USA USA!

Now we got 2!

Sure, you've got Beckham, but we have Benny!

Have fun in the states and sell us more talented americans ;)


Love from Denmark

Posted by: Nicolai | August 12, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

he have to watch himselfs, all new players that comes to AGF get injured. 1.5 year ago we signed Oluf Persson, one of swedens best defenders, he hasn`t played yet :-( this time we signed Nando from Borrusia and he was the big sawyer.... got injured 2 days before the first match and hasn`t played yet.... a few years ago we tried to get al the bad spirits out of the stadium by hiring som spirit hunters.... us AGF has to have our humor.... we haven`t had a lot to lauge on from the pitch the last ten years, but we are the most dedicated fans i Denmark... and even though mr. white is not one of our best players and not is in the starting line up every time, we love him, and every time he has the ball the stadium is going crazy - chearing USA USA USA... i dont know guy, but if he has his heart with to the club, and give everything on the pitch, he will get at great welcome from us.

Posted by: the viking | August 12, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone tell us danes about this video?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pUjk57x9jI

Posted by: Proud-as-few | August 12, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Benny is a player with excellent ball skills and is a pure possession player who has excellent vision and can be a terrific tackler and ball winner when he's motivated. He has a great first touch and his vision enables him to make dangerous passes that he can deliver in a variety of ways. I haven't ever seen him run at defenders so I don't think this is part of his game but he's capable of everything else you'd want out of a #10 type player.

His big flaw seems to be his attitude as he's found himself buried by several different coaches for reasons seemingly unrelated to his play. He has always shown well for the USMNT despite not being in great club form. His Brazilian heritage is occasionally noticeable in his flair on the ball.

Posted by: Yossarian | August 12, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I am all for a Danish Viking tailgate at a DC United game. I'll bring the frikadeller and the Akvavit! I'm an Odense BK fan but I hope that Benny can play well and help Aarhus .

Posted by: Eric | August 12, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

If soccer is how you make your living,then your obligated to make as much money as you can while you can. There cannot be many leagues worst than MLS. If I can make 50,000 euros playing in Denmark vs $40,000 in the U.S., the choice is easy.

Posted by: paxonst | August 12, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

no, he should no play for them.

Posted by: bryan | August 13, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU SOOO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS!!!!!!!!!!
i love denmark and visited in the last two weeks two soccergames there (was on holiday) and it would be sooo cool if he moved there ...
fan from germany

Posted by: carina | August 14, 2008 4:46 AM | Report abuse

I am have been an AGF supporter since birth and it's a great club with very committed supporters. Benny would get to play every week and have the possibility to play champions league or UEFA cup football... That will not happen at Derby..

Posted by: Andreas Wagner | August 14, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

he has signed the contract today, for 3 years with AGF

Posted by: the viking | August 15, 2008 5:43 AM | Report abuse

"It sure looks official... anyone read Danish???

http://www.agf.co.dk/"

Brian Steen Nielsen (the sports director) says: "Benny is a different kind of midfielder than the others, that we have. He is more offensive, and it warrants for quality that he has played on a high level in the Bundesliga, in the Premier League and on the American national team. It is an exciting player that I'm looking forward to seeing in action, and that I'm sure will feel at home quickly, both regarding football and socially.

Benny says:
"AGF is a club on the rise, where I feel I fit in and can perform my best. I heard a lot of good things about the Danish league, and I look forward to trying it on."

"I like having the ball at my feet, I have a good vision of the field, and I like putting my teammates into play with precise passes. Defensively I'm tactically strong and work hard. Outside the field I'm a relaxed guy, who gets along well with everybody."

Posted by: Anders | August 15, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"It sure looks official... anyone read Danish???

http://www.agf.co.dk/"

Brian Steen Nielsen (the sports director) says: "Benny is a different kind of midfielder than the others, that we have. He is more offensive, and it warrants for quality that he has played on a high level in the Bundesliga, in the Premier League and on the American national team. It is an exciting player that I'm looking forward to seeing in action, and that I'm sure will feel at home quickly, both regarding football and socially.

Benny says:
"AGF is a club on the rise, where I feel I fit in and can perform my best. I heard a lot of good things about the Danish league, and I look forward to trying it on."

"I like having the ball at my feet, I have a good vision of the field, and I like putting my teammates into play with precise passes. Defensively I'm tactically strong and work hard. Outside the field I'm a relaxed guy, who gets along well with everybody."

Posted by: Anders | August 15, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

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