By BRYAN ROBISON
Brek Shea has been conspicuously absent from the FC Dallas lineup for the last two matches, but coach Schellas Hyndman thinks a break from everything is all his struggling star needs to kick start what has been an otherwise disappointing season.
In the two weeks since Shea's sideline outburst at Hyndman after being pulled in the 64th minute of a match against San Jose that FC Dallas was losing by two goals, Shea has missed matches against the Portland Timbers and defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy with the club in a make-or-break portion of the season as it tries to climb the mountain and make a late charge for the playoffs.
After pulling Shea and receiving the brunt of the struggling star's frustration in the San Jose game, Hyndman said the following: “I don’t really think that he needs to vent his frustrations on his performance or my subbing him, because I think he’s in enough hot water already.”
That hot water, at least according to Hyndman, seems to stem from the expectations put on Shea within the last year. After some time off and following Saturday night's match against the Galaxy, Hyndman seemed optimistic that Shea has already begun to turn the corner and is on his way to returning to his top form.
"One of the things I think for all of us to take a step in the right direction is that you have to recognize that something wasn’t right," Hyndman said. "I think he [Shea] has come to that realization. I thought the last two practices he had were very good. I asked him why, and he said he feels like for once this year, he feels like the pressure is off of him.”
That pressure has continued to build ever since Shea became the face of the FC Dallas franchise, signed a contract extension through 2015 and became an MLS MVP candidate in 2011 in the process. He has been the most capped player on the U.S. men’s national team under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and following the 2011 MLS season, Shea spent a month in England while training at Arsenal, with transfer rumors swirling.
With a successful year like that, expectations were seemingly inevitable. So far, Shea has been unable to live up to them. At this time last season, Shea had nine goals, including four consecutive games with a goal during June and July. This season, he has only three goals — none since April 28 — and was suspended for three matches earlier in the year for kicking the ball at an assistant referee.
“Pressure is a funny thing,” Hyndman said. “It’s easy to tell someone ‘Don’t worry about it,’ but that person worries about it. That’s why there are so many people walking around with ulcers. I’m sure people tell them, 'Don’t worry.' I think what Brek has been doing is trying to live up to expectations, of everybody else’s and himself."
Hyndman is hopeful that the time off to reflect on both his outburst and his disappointing 2012 will be precisely what Shea needs in order to turn this season around.
“These last two training sessions that he’s had, it seems he has some life in his legs,” Hyndman said. “It feels there is some excitement for him being out there.”