Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Brek Shea, All Around the World

Brek Shea is on the move again, this time to Atlanta to play for last year's MLS Cup winning side. I think people forget just how much of an impact Shea made during his 2010 and 2011 seasons for FC Dallas as a 20-year-old. More than his goal + assist rate was just how much of a force of nature he was on the pitch. He played like a feral animal. Some of his runs were end to end, bouncing off opposing players and the ground alike. He is a type of a player that I hadn't seen following MLS up to that point and still haven't seen since.

Shea has an artist's soul and a Texan mentality wrapped in an athletic build. It's an odd combination that I think has led to his somewhat bizarre career. I think the openness of MLS played to his ability, but once he graduated to England he, and we, found that you can't just be a blunt solo instrument and be able to get playing time.

There was an air of "I've made it" once he got there. I remember he was injured when he came in, gained weight and never really got back into shape. Even after loans to Barnsley and Birmingham City. He didn't seem to care to learn the trade, either. He just wanted to play his way.

He was seen as somewhat of damaged goods when he was brought back to MLS via Orlando City. I think he spent the first couple seasons there just trying to get back into it, physically and mentally. Working against him at the time (besides the dysfunction of Orlando City) was his size. In MLS 6'3" shouts HE CAN PLAY ANYWHERE, so he was moved all over the pitch. Last year alone he managed to start in seven(!) different positions.

It sounds like Atlanta is planning on deploying him at Left Back, which is unfortunate. But again, his size means that many only look at that. I don't think he is a particularly good defender, but set piece defending I guess?

Going back to when he was running wild in Dallas would be how I deployed him. If that means coming off the bench as a sub when you need a goal or two, or dropping him in there against bad defensive teams and just telling him to make shit happen. At his peak in 2011, you felt like every time he got the ball he was going to create a chance.

Brek turns 29 at the end of the month. His career is more interesting than most and I still think he has a little to offer.

Just not from the back.

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