Brek Shea will be missed in Dallas
Brek Shea has been the face of FC Dallas the past two seasons, but now he plays for Stoke City. I’m glad for Shea. It’s always good to see American players get a shot in the perceived top league in the world. But since I just bought an FC Dallas season ticket a few weeks ago, this is not welcome news.
I first saw Shea play in person in 2010, the season he made his first professional start and really came into his own for FC Dallas. He almost immediately caught my eye as a special player. It wasn’t just the flashy shock of ultra blonde hair. He hustled his tail off and wasn’t afraid to run with the ball at opponents. He had height, strength, speed, and all-important feistiness. He could scoot around the edges and get passes across the box or get shots off when other players would have lost possession. He spent that 2010 season under the radar and I shared FC Dallas fans’ pride of recognizing potential that the wider world hadn’t fully noticed yet. I even called my younger brother and soccer confidant Dan to tell him about this Brek Shea and how he could be on the national team someday.
Shea and FC Dallas made it to their first and only MLS Cup Final in 2010 where they lost to Colorado. By the start of 2011, the cat was out of the bag with Shea and opponents started marking him tightly. It was a tougher season for him (and FC Dallas), yet he was still a standout and a finalist for the league’s MVP. Buzz began building about him. In the offseason, he got to train for a few weeks at Arsenal. FC Dallas wisely signed him on through 2015. By the start of last season, the media spotlight on Shea was blinding. Even in Dallas he was becoming a household name (okay, still mostly just among us soccer nerds). US National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann jumped on board the Brek train too, granting Shea several consecutive caps.
Then the 2012 MLS season got under way and Shea fizzled on field. A turf toe injury sidelined him for several weeks. I actually observed him up close as he was nearing recovery from that injury when he participated in a demonstration drill run by FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman at Hyndman’s annual clinic for local coaches. I was impressed and surprised that Shea turned up for the demo – something he certainly wasn’t obligated to do on such a hot May afternoon. The demo was a mix of academy players and FC Dallas reserve players, but Shea played as hard as if he were trying to earn a starting spot. Afterwards he affably hung around to chat with coaches and pose for photos. He certainly didn’t appear too overwhelmed by stardom that day.
Shea continued struggling with injuries throughout 2012, but even when he was in the lineup he couldn’t recover his near-MVP form from 2011. Fans grumbled impatiently. Brek and Hyndman got into a spat on NBC when Hyndman benched him late during a contentious match at San Jose. Shea the wonder boy suddenly seemed mentally and physically drained.
Now it looks like the business side of soccer has reared its necessary and sometimes ugly head with Dallas apparently eager to cash in on Stoke City’s interest in the 22-year-old Shea. Shea was a rare rising star for Dallas, a real potential franchise player. I had a feeling it would just be a matter of time before a bigger club snatched him up – Dallas is too small a club to retain stars for very long. The only real surprise is why now? Shea had such a dismal 2012 MLS season that I was confident he would be in Dallas at least through 2013. I was really looking forward to this being a comeback season for Brek.
I should have been suspicious when Zach Loyd began featuring a bit more than Shea in FC Dallas’ promotional efforts toward the end of last season. Considering that and the rift between Hyndman and Shea, the writing has likely been on the wall for several months. I wish Dallas would splash the Stoke cash they get for Shea on a replacement star, someone for season ticket holders like myself to get jazzed about. But I won’t hold my breath.
It’s a catch-22 for American soccer fans when deals like this come along. On one hand, you want to see U.S. players get opportunities in the world’s top league – it’s great for their development, enhances our national team, and improves American soccer’s reputation. On the other hand it highlights where MLS falls in the pecking order of the world’s soccer leagues. It seems difficult enough (particularly in a market like Dallas) to get fans to support MLS teams that actually have an American star or two, much less when those stars get shipped to more prestigious European leagues.
I wish Shea all the best at Stoke City. This FC Dallas fan will definitely miss him.
Your thoughts on Shea’s transfer to Stoke City?
FC Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman talks about team’s discipline
A few days ago I wrote about FC Dallas’ penchant for earning red cards this season, the latest offender being Jair Benitez who was booked against Houston Dynamo last Saturday. Reckless on-field behavior, including red cards last month by Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez, and a retroactive league suspension for Brek Shea, have kicked the team when it’s already down with an unbelievable number of injuries. The cards have been extremely unwise (to put it nicely) given the club’s injury predicament and position in the Western Conference standings (currently last). It made me seriously wonder what is going on leadership-wise at FCD.
Anyway, check out this interesting admission from Coach Schellas Hyndman posted on the club’s website yesterday…
It’s good to hear Coach Hyndman alarmed at the team’s lack of mental discipline, though I’m surprised there wasn’t already a disciplinary policy (fine, suspension, etc.) in place. Anyway, it sounds like he’s ready to clamp down on this red card issue. I just hope it’s not too little too late.
What do you think FC Dallas should do to improve their mental discipline?
Hernandez & Perez lack common sense in 2-0 loss to Colorado
FC Dallas has had an awful start to the 2012 MLS season. Not so much in terms of points (12 so far from 10 games, in 6th place in the Western Conference), but because of injuries. The injured list is so ridiculously long that the club had to bring in an extra player last week (former Timbers man James Marcelin) to augment the weakened squad. It’s a nightmare scenario for manager Schellas Hyndman, as even Brek Shea missed Sunday night’s home clash with Colorado due to turf toe issues.
Knowing the team is scraping to get by, veteran (and former captain) Daniel Hernandez received two yellow cards in short succession, earning himself an early trip to the showers, all in the first half hour against Colorado. Two minutes after the Hernandez ejection, new FCD forward Blas Perez received a red card for a bone-headed, cleats up collision with the Rapids’ Drew Moor. Suddenly, with nearly an hour of the match remaining, Dallas had nine players and little chance of winning an important match.
The Perez red card might’ve been debatable, but it was probably deserved. Hernandez’s two yellows were certainly deserved. They were both very petty offenses committed by veteran players who should know better.
The Hernandez cards were particularly problematic because he received the first one for mouthing off at the ref. It was ridiculous, immature, and unacceptable behavior from one of the team leaders. Hernandez is a tough dude and has been a solid midfielder for Dallas the past few seasons, but he is too mouthy, and this time it is really going to cost his team. Hernandez has earned two red cards already this season. He seems to have lost a step, which has made him prone to irrational challenges. He would be much better suited to a substitute role this season, but Dallas’ current injury situation makes that difficult.
The Perez challenge was very unwise considering that Hernandez had just been ejected. Perez seemed to be a great acquisition at the season’s start, but I’d like to see more goals and fewer off-the-ball shenanigans from him. Just play the game!
The mental lapse of two players with so much experience hurts Dallas during a crucial week with Seattle visiting on Wednesday and a trip to Columbus Saturday. Having lost to Colorado, these next two matches are even more important. The ejections were also a slap in the face to FC Dallas fans that didn’t pay to see the team limp their way through an hour of the match with nine men (as valiant as they were) on their way to a 2-0 defeat.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh with these red card criticisms?
FC Dallas’ Brek Shea and George John hone their skills in Britain
FC Dallas standout Brek Shea capped a successful 2011 with a month-long training stint at Arsenal. Few expected much to come of the opportunity in terms of a loan deal or something more permanent – least of all Arsenal skipper Arsene Wenger who downplayed their invitation to Shea – but it was a great chance for Shea to train with some of Europe’s best during the MLS offseason. Between U.S. Men’s National Team call-ups and the Arsenal invite, FC Dallas fans were proud to see one of their best get so much deserved recognition.
Then a few weeks ago came the news that defender George John was heading to West Ham United for a two-month loan spell. Again fans were pleased to see one of FC Dallas’ outstanding young talents validated with such a high-profile opportunity. Both Shea and John were also invited to the U.S. Men’s National Team winter training camp, though John is unable to attend due to the West Ham loan.
The Shea and John opportunities highlight a catch-22 for American soccer as a whole. MLS is getting better every year and helping produce world-class players, but they’re not necessarily able to keep those players stateside. On one hand, the more our best players get to play top-level soccer the better – especially for national team purposes. On the other hand, it doesn’t bode well for the development of MLS if its best prospects get scooped up by foreign clubs (latest example: Bolton’s snag of Tim Ream from NY Red Bulls). I don’t blame players at all for wanting to give Europe a go if a club comes calling – it will probably make them a better player (and make them more cash). But as a fan, I want to see top players like Shea and John don the FCD red and white for the long haul.
For now, we can supposedly look forward to seeing Shea and John in the FCD lineup when the new MLS season kicks off in March (though John’s deal apparently leaves an opening for West Ham to keep him on if things go well). I hope we do get to see them back in Dallas, as they’re both rising stars playing for a franchise that needs the potential drawing power of stars more than most other MLS teams. I think the sky’s the limit for Shea in particular. He could be the U.S. National Team’s best player in a few years. FC Dallas fans better enjoy these guys while we can, because the reality is they may soon be too good for a club our size to afford to keep.
What do you think of offseason loan deals for MLS players? Does it help or hurt MLS?
Wednesday’s “friendly” ended in 1 – 1 draw
The U.S./Mexico match in Philadelphia Wednesday night was noteworthy only because it was Jurgen Klinsmann’s first match as the U.S. men’s national team coach. Otherwise, it was a fairly sloppy game with lively patches few and far between. Here are my match notes:
-The US starting lineup was unexciting. Buddle over Brek Shea or Freddy Adu? I know Adu’s not necessarily a forward, but still. Buddle? I thought we’d see Klinsmann begin to reinvent the wheel, even in his first game, by naming a bigger ratio of newbies to veterans. Instead, the starting eleven was a pretty familiar bunch.
-17th min: Fluke Mexican goal, which ricocheted off a green-shirt via corner kick.
-Interesting, old school move by Klinsmann to remove names from the back of the US jerseys. It sends the signal that the team is rebooting. Some seem to think it’s an unnecessarily junior league thing to do. I kind of like it.
-The US was very drab in the first half, creating next to nothing. Zero shots!
-It was weird to see Jose Torres out there (for the US) because I’d almost forgotten about him! I thought he was pretty swell in World Cup 2010 so it was good to see him back. He had a quiet first half, but showed some promise in the second.
-At halftime, ESPN’s Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman were rightfully upset by the lack of American creativity in the first half. I agree with the frequently grumpy-seeming Lalas that there is far too much emphasis on the US somehow needing more Latin players to improve. At a recent FC Dallas game, I even overheard a dude ask his buddy whether or not he thought the booming Hispanic population in the US would mean we’ll win the World Cup soon. Degree of latin-ness has nothing to do with it. I’m pretty certain soccer skill has not been detected in the genetic code in any part of the world yet.
-57th min: Solid header by Bocanegra off a corner. Mexican GK had to make a great diving save. Should’ve been the equalizer!
-Overall, I expected to see a lot more US hustle since everyone is auditioning for Klinsmann.
-60th min: Brek Shea replaced Jermaine Jones. Juan Agudelo replaced Buddle. The US tempo almost immediately spiked.
-61st min: Youthful waste of a shot by Agudelo. Sorry, but I don’t see what all the excitement over Agudelo is about. He did make some decent passes before the night was over though.
-73rd min: Shea slid the ball through the box from the left side to Robbie Rogers (?!) who tapped it in! Game tied 1 – 1.
-Donovan finally woke up for the last 15 minutes. Not sure what took so long, but his late surge was a reminder that he’s still got skill to spare. Perhaps he’ll be unleashed to play with more freedom under Klinsmann.
-Robbie Rogers was a surprise. I’ve never been too impressed with him, but he demonstrated potential during his short stint.
-I was most excited to see Brek Shea get some quality time. He made the most of his trial. What I like so much about Shea is his hustle. He always works hard. I think we’ll be seeing him in Brazil in three years.
-It was a good first result for the US under Klinsmann. No one was expecting much since he’s only been on the job a couple weeks. Still, we got to see some new faces, and we didn’t lose, so overall, a positive night. It is refreshing and fun to see Klinsmann on the sideline. He will be good for US soccer.
What did you think of Klinsmann’s lineup choices? Feel free to share your thoughts below…