Brek Shea's season could not be straying any further from how most thought it would unfold.
After a year full of U.S. men's national team appearances and an offseason filled with European transfer speculation and a training stint at Arsenal, Shea has struggled to meet the lofty expectations bestowed upon him and has had his standing as a rising American star and transfer candidate take a step back.
Between the disappointment of the U.S. Under-23 national team's failure to qualify for the Olympics, Shea's three-game suspension for deliberately kicking a ball at a referee and an overall lack of effectiveness on the field that resulted in him being left off the national team roster for the May and June friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, the College Station, Texas, native has regressed in his fifth professional season. Last year, Shea scored 11 goals, assisted on four others and was a legitimate MVP candidate. This season, he had one spurt in April during which he scored in three of four games, but he has not been involved in an FC Dallas goal since then.
Frustations boiled over Wednesday night in San Jose, when the 22-year-old Shea, under contract with FC Dallas through 2015, was unceremoniously substituted for in the 64th minute with FCD looking to come back from a 2-0 deficit. He expressed his emotions during a verbal altercation with manager Schellas Hyndman, one that led player-coach Daniel Hernandez to issue pointed remarks his way.
"I thought [Shea] was very disrespectful, not only just to Schellas, but I thought to the rest of the team," Hernandez told ESPN following the match. "He's a young guy still, but this shows the immaturity there in him, and I think a lack of professionalism that right now, at this point in the season, the way things have been going for us, we can't have.
"Nobody likes to come out of a game. I don't like to come out of a game. I'm pissed off when I come out of a game, or when I don't play. But when things are not going well for you, or you're not having a good game, and coach needs to make a change, you have to respect it. At this point in the season, we can't have those breakdowns right now, because we need everybody. We need him. He's one of the stars of our team, and we need him to step up with his leadership and his play. He's obviously one of the best players in the country. In order for us to try to fight to get into the playoffs, we're going to need him and everyone else, 100 percent."
So where does this leave Shea, Hyndman and FC Dallas? With the club's injury-and-suspension-laden season turning into a nightmare, it would be easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and take drastic measures. The fact is, Shea is the face of that team, and any player is prone to a slump. That his has coincided with the Olympic qualifying disaster and FCD's season-long swoon has magnified things even more, but that does not necessarily mean he will be run out of town.
His actions Wednesday night were inexcusable, and Hyndman's staff should exert some sort of in-house discipline, whether it be a fine, suspension or place on the bench. For Shea, the most effective way to respond and make up for his lapse in judgment is with his actions on the field, where an attitude and form adjustment are both necessary.
What's your take on Shea's situation in Dallas? Should the club try and trade him? Is Hyndman the one that needs to go? Do you see this being a situation that both parties can salvage? Were the expectations placed on him too high for him to fulfill?
Share your thoughts below.