BY ADAM SERRANO
The words that United States head coach Bob Bradley used to describe Brek Shea's time with the United States national camp. The versatile FC Dallas midfielder earned his first national team camp after a strong 2010 season with Dallas and an impressive stint with the United States' various youth squads.
Shea was thrown right into the fray starting in his first match along side Jozy Altidore and Stuart Holden in the attack for the United States' 0-0 draw against Colombia at PPL Park on Tuesday night. The debut cap only lasted for 45 minutes as Shea was pulled at the half after appearing overwhelmed by his the pace of the international game. After his first match, Shea remained optimistic about his play against Colombia.
“I was excited. Struggled a little bit tonight and had some nerves, but I had a good time [with the national team]," said Shea. ”It was definitely faster than MLS, and in the beginning of the game I struggled, but towards the end, I started feeling it so it was nice. I got used to the speed and felt more relaxed as I got used to the speed of play.”
Shea's performance did not mirror his usual top play for FCD. Playing in the 4-3-3 formation that the United States used on Tuesday, Shea was often caught out of position and his attempts to press forward ended up as turnovers as opposed to scoring chances. After the match, head coach Bob Bradley was honest about how he felt the youthful attacker played in his first cap.
"There was a little bit of nerves, but speed of the international game is faster than what they see day in and day out. You just try to give them some ideas about picking up the game quicker and positioning themselves better," said Bradley. "There were points in the first half when the game was going too fast for Brek, faster than he’s used to. It takes him a little longer to see where he needs to go, but that’s part of the experiment and 45 minutes is a good start.”
There are signs of optimism for Shea in his first appearance for Bradley's men. An asset that helped in Shea's integration to the squad was the presence of national team veteran and FC Dallas teammate Heath Pearce, the pair were the only MLS players called up for the squad. For Dallas, Shea will often play in front of Pearce, a style that was followed in the match against Colombia. A chance to have a teammate participate in the integration process is vital for a young attacker.
In addition, for a young attacker, the opportunity to learn from seasoned veterans like attacker Clint Dempsey during training can do wonders for the development of the youngster. Following the match, Altidore admitted that the success of Shea's stint goes far beyond just 45 minutes on the field against Colombia.
"Brek did really well in training. I think he's a really good player, and he's going to have a lot of chances to show his worth," said Altidore. "I think tonight was a bit tough for him playing out wide out there, but he's a good player. I look for good things from him."