Feilhaber saga prompts social media explosion

Revolution fans flood Twitter and Facebook with support for the club’s acquisition of Benny Fei

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Benny Feilhaber almost broke Twitter on Tuesday night.

More accurately, New England Revolution fans desperate to see their club acquire the 26-year-old U.S. National Team midfielder almost broke Twitter on Tuesday night. Mobilized by the rallying call #BringBennytoBoston – and spurred on by the news that both Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union had passed on Feilhaber with the top two spots in the Allocation Process – supporters flooded their feeds with messages encouraging the Revs to select the 2010 FIFA World Cup veteran.

“I feel like a kid Christmas morning waiting to see what Santa brought in this waiting game for #Feilhaber decision #BringBennytoBoston #revs,” said @amylizzie as she anxiously awaited the news.

“B-B-B-Benny! Benny! B-B-B-Benny to the #Revs? Feilhaber sounds like a Rebellious name! #BringBennytoBoston !!!” added @OTBPtv.

Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday – during the height of the drama and while the name “Feilhaber” was trending nationwide – the #BringBennytoBoston hashtag was being Tweeted with alarming frequency, at a rate of more than once per minute.

The #BringBennytoBoston hashtag was the brainchild of Brendan Schimmel, one of the founding members of The Rebellion supporters group. He came up with the slogan last weekend in the hopes his clever catchphrase would have a dual purpose.

“The two-fold plan from The Rebellion end was to inform our friends that we had a great chance at a great player in Benny, and to organize a collective response so that our voices would be heard,” said Schimmel. “This allowed us – as a community – to echo our sentiments way more loudly than any one individual Tweet ever could.

“On Saturday night, The Rebellion put it out on Twitter, Facebook and our website,” he continued. “The rest of the credit goes to our members and fans who spread it like wildfire. I mean, who doesn’t love a good alliteration?”

Schimmel’s plan worked wonders, as #BringBennytoBoston began to gain a foothold almost instantly. But the true force of its power wasn’t revealed until approximately 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday when it was revealed both Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union passed on the chance to select Feilhaber. With the Revolution’s odds of landing the attacking midfielder increasing rapidly, the social media response exploded.

“C’mon Revs bring it home!!! #bringbennytoboston,” exclaimed @xraymission.

It was announced late Wednesday morning that the Revs had indeed brought Benny to Boston, using their spot in the allocation order to select Feilhaber. As far as Schimmel and his fellow Rebellion members are concerned, there has never been such a passionate response to a player signing in Revolution history.

“Not in my time,” said Kyle Santos, another of The Rebellion’s founding members. “I can’t remember back to the buzz when Taylor Twellman came to MLS, but with the lack of social media back then, this has to be bigger.”

So what about Feilhaber put Revolution fans into such delirium?

“Anyone watching this team for the past two years knows the missing link is a creative attacking midfielder with ball skills,” said Schimmel. “The added bonus to Benny is we already know him. He’s on the National Team, he’s 26 years old and he has World Cup experience.”

Considering the reception Feilhaber was given on Twitter and Facebook, one can only imagine what’s in store for the former AGF Aarhus midfielder when he takes the field for the first time at Gillette Stadium. Feilhaber is scheduled to join his new teammates for training on Friday and should be available for selection on Saturday night when the Revs host Sporting Kansas City, so we might not have to wait long to find out.

But we will be made to wait, at least for now. Because in typically covert fashion, the supporters aren’t giving away any of their secrets.

“The Rebellion will be working with the Midnight Riders to develop something worthy of Benny Blue Eyes,” said Schimmel, playfully referencing Feilhaber’s eye color. “As for now, probably tons of repeated and horrible renditions of ‘Benny and the Revs’ will echo through Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.”