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Shea ‘experiment’ with USMNT still a work in progress

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An experiment. 

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."


  1. I remember seeing Frankie Hejduk in his USMNT debut vs Denmark in SanDiego a long time ago. It was pretty much Denmark’s U-23 team, yet Frankie was clearly overmatched, and did not look like he would ever contribute to the team. While you can criticize his play over the years, it is hard to make the case that he did not belong on the team. OTOH, E. Johnson started out scoring goals for the USMNT in bunches, but fizzled over time. Give Shea some time to see what happens. Like Yogi said, “It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future”.

  2. Young guys have to get blooded sometime. It is hard to say that someone is “overrated” when they have, quite honestly, had a very small sample size for even their club team. Shea was not consistently in the starting lineup for Dallas until this season; like most young, inexperienced players, he is had ups and downs.

    As much as we want them to, Donovan and Dempsey are not going to be around past this next World Cup cycle. New players have to be found at some point; in order for this to happen, they have to go through the growing pains of having rough first caps.

  3. He definitely looked like he wasn’t ready, but that was kind of expected. I say give him another chance with the Camp Cupcake January friendlies and if he doesn’t impress there, then probably hold off on calling him up for a while (i.e. no Gold Cup) unless he really starts tearing up MLS.

  4. Alan Gordon!? Are you effin kidding me? Have you not watched a Galaxy game for the past 6 years or so?

    And the ship has sailed for Brian Ching. First of all I believe he’s injured. He wasn’t even on the bench for their game against the Revs. And lastly, he’s 32 years old. What the hell is the point? It’s not like he’s a superstar, or ever was one. We’re just playing friendlies right now, so we should be giving young guys reps.

    As for Kenny Cooper, he’s still recovering from an ankle injury.

    I’d love to have Le Toux play for USMNT. But he only has a green card, and while I’m not an expert on the process of acquiring US citizenship, I’d guess that he’d have to wait at least a few years until he becomes a citizen. He’s 26 years old and World Cup is in less than 4 years from now, so unless he gets US citizenship before the spring friendlies of 2014, I say he’s got no chance.

  5. Pearce is maddeningly frustrating. He can look way better than Bornstein at times and look like a legitimate left back (Honduras friendly back in January or February , this friendly against Colombia). But then sometimes he’ll totally suck (Czech Republic pre-WQ friendly, basically any 2009 World Cup qualifier). He’s a good crosser, has pretty good ball skills, and he’s got a more solid body type than Bornstein. But he gets burned a lot and I’m not too confident in his defending.

  6. I think I’m ready to give up on him…but

    if you can convince me otherwise, please let me hear your argument.

    I respect all opinions!

  7. He’s not progressing at all.

    All we ever hear from the commentators after he can’t make an accurate pass

    or doesn’t hustle

    or can’t get a shot off

    or can’t trap

    or is indecisive

    or makes poor decisions

    or loses his composure

    or misses the frame

    or is beaten to fifty-fifty balls

    is that he’s only 20 years old.

    Last year all we heard was “he’s only 19 years old” and the year previous to that, “he’s only 18 years old”.

    Sooner or later he has got to prove that he belongs on this team, that he has earned his starting spot on the field, but I don’t see it happening!

    Maybe I’m wrong, and I hope I am, because I’d love to see him succeed because we really need a dynamic forward, but I’m sincerely doubting that he’s the answer.

    Anything that can help this team I’m all for, but I don’t think it’s him.

    Am I wrong ?

  8. Because the typical wait from green card to citizenship is 5 years. Le Toux will be 31 years if and when he gets his citizenship, and will have already missed the 2014 World Cup.

  9. Shea’s performance should have been expected. The constant drumbeat from fans who want to see their favorite niche player get a called up to the USMNT should be paying close attention. I feel like there’s this savior mentality out there that unduly colors the expectations of too many of our USA supporters.

    Whether you like the mainstays of our National Team or not, they are in fact the best players available at this time. So give it a rest with the Altidore/whomever-you- don’t-care-for-at-the-moment whining. Our country simply doesn’t produce Neymars and Patos. For the present it’s going to take time to develop quality – so expect that new USMNT players are going to deliver Shea-type performances – and hopefully develop from there.

    (of course – this is also why Lichaj’s performance was so exciting – he stepped on the field and immediately displayed the type of talent we are looking for)

  10. I totally concur with your comment 100 percent.

    I might add that Jozy hasn’t improved his International nor Club play in years.

    He’s not going to be a star and he’s not the right fit for the USMNT.

    I’m sure he’s a great person and a decent human being… but he is NOT a starting forward on a top 20 team at the international level!

  11. Jozy has had ample time (starting for this team) to prove that he belongs here, and in my humble opinion I feel that he has failed miserably.

    We should start this new cycle by finding a replacement for him.

    He really hurts this team…and I only want what is best for the team that I love, support and have followed since 1990.

  12. You make valid points Rees, but I still was unimpressed with his play.

    I have a feeling that he’ll do much better with his next oppotunity.

  13. You’ve got to start somewhere, but I expected

    much more from him.

    Yes…he was slow, indecisive and a unimpressive, but it was his first game and we’ve been seeing this type of play from Jozy for years now!

    I’m glad someone new on the offensive side of the ball is getting a chance.

    Coach Bradley is using these friendlies wisely.

  14. Alonso isn’t eligible for the US.

    Not sure if this was pointed out yet, but from the article:

    “For Dallas, Shea will often play in front of Pearce”

    Whoever wrote this article must not watch FC Dallas play because this is false. Shea often plays on the left side of midfield and Pearce on the right side of the back line.

  15. Have you even looked at the standings lately? There are only two teams with any tiny uncertainty about the post season: KC and Colorado. Positioning in the playoffs is pretty much a moot point with the current format … Surely a couple more candidates could have been called up.

  16. +1 re putting him out with complete bonehead idea of 3 d-mids – how do I get Edu on field with JJ and keep my son playing??

    BB thinking like a dad not a usmnt coach is only way that could have been thought up even as experiment

    Anyway, Shea maybe has potential, let’s see him slot in with a more sensible formation and see how he looks then, way too soon to write him off.

  17. Both the Argentine and Brazilian leagues are significantly better than folks give them credit for. Their problems are 1) all the best players get vacuumed up by top Euro leagues by the the time the kids are say 23 or max 24….the next tier of talent goes overseas to make more $$ in leagues from Ukraine to Japan than they could at home…then you have players returning from not so illustrious overseas careers in their mid-20s…and top players coming back late 20s early 30s when they have lost a step.

    And I didn;t mention the politics and so on…but in general with the Brazilian economy getting stronger and the domestic league (a little) cleaner, I definitely wish FSC and/or ESPN would televise Brazilian league games, foot skills across the board are better than MLS by a mile and better than low end EPL squads in my opinion.

    Now Brazilian 2nd division…that’s another story. If you’re 2nd division in Brazil….you’re not good. Even the Brazilians only have so much talent to go around to feed leagues worldwide.

  18. where is Patrick Ianni for NT duty…or Osvaldo Alonso. Bob Bradley has to go. Too much hype for euro based players when we have some damn good ones that been growing up playin soccer in our back yard but the silliness that is means they dont get a chance. Alonso needs to be capped and soon. That man is a magician. Ianni one of toughest SOB’s you’ll ever see. Come on Ives…support the troops….the local kids aint worse than what we got to offer at moment…….give ’em a chance!

  19. shea just looks like he is good because of his long hair and headband. other than that, he is the complete definition of overrated.


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