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USMNT Daily Update: Shea needed back in the fold, takes a step forward with goal in Stoke debut


Brek Shea is working his way toward full fitness and a chance to make his English Premier League debut sooner than expected, and he took a big step toward that on Tuesday after scoring a goal and playing a full match for Stoke City’s reserves.

Having only recently returned to England over the weekend after sorting out his work permit paperwork, Shea wasted no time showing Stoke coaches what he can bring to the table, heading home a goal in a closed-door friendly against Burnley at the Britannia Stadium.

A goal in a closed-door friendly doesn’t mean Shea is all the way back yet, but it’s a big step for a player who has about five weeks to get himself fit, and into the Stoke City rotation if he’s going to have a chance of being part of the U.S. Men’s National Team plans for the March qualifiers.

And in case you hadn’t noticed in last week’s USA loss to Honduras, the U.S. team could certainly use a player just like Shea right now.

Consider, if you will, the fact that it was just six months ago that we saw Shea in a U.S. National Team uniform, breaking down a Mexican defender before setting up the winning goal for the United States at Estadio Azteca. Now consider the strong likelihood that he played that match, and two qualifiers against Jamaica after that, with a painful foot injury. And then consider the fact that the Americans are set to return to Azteca in five weeks and they head there in need of a true left winger.

Some may choose to overlook Shea’s impressive cameo against Mexico and focus on his other games in 2012, when he wasn’t nearly as effective and looked little like the player who tore up MLS in the summer of 2011. That is certainly was the case, but after surgery to repair the broken bone in his foot, and after an extended recovery period, Shea heads into 2013 as rested as he has ever been since becoming a regular pro.

Fresh legs and the confidence that would come with playing in the English Premier League could produce just the kind of speedy and shifty left winger the U.S. attack needs to stretch defenses and create some width for a national team that played a painfully narrow game against Honduras.

It might seem like a stretch to think Jurgen Klinsmann would throw Shea into some qualifiers, but let’s remember that through the first year of Klinsmann’s tenure, Shea was as much a regular part of Klinsmann’s lineup selections as Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey. If he can regain his sharpness, and find regular playing time at Stoke, you can be the ranch that Klinsmann calls him in and potentially hands him a starting role.

It is no secret the U.S. needs wingers badly, and for all the good memories we have of Eddie Johnson terrorizing Antigua & Barbuda  from the left flank, the reality is Johnson just isn’t a left winger and facing tougher defenses in the Hex will mean far less of a possibility that Johnson finds success being played out of position.

When he’s on form, Shea can fit perfectly into a 4-3-3 as a left forward, a 4-2-3-1 as the left winger, and the 4-4-2 as a more traditional left winger.

Before we can project him on the U.S. team in March he must first break through with Stoke City, which is no sure thing. Stoke City didn’t spend $4 million on Shea to bury him on the bench, but the Potters aren’t exactly struggling in the Premier League so there is no sense of urgency to rush Shea along. Scoring a goal in his first action for Stoke, even if only in a closed-door friendly, is a big first step for Shea.

If Shea can’t break through, he still might be an option for Klinsmann, though starting him could be tough to justify. Klinsmann might have to take a look at veteran winger DaMarcus Beasley, who continues to ply his trade at a good level in the Mexican League. If Beasley isn’t an option, and if Landon Donovan fails to return from his sabbatical, Klinsmann just might be tempted to take a chance on Shea even if he isn’t seeing regular playing time at Stoke.

What other options are there? Can Klinsmann really deploy Eddie Johnson on the left flank again? Doing so against Costa Rica and Mexico, with their speedy wing options, could be a recipe for disaster. Some have suggested moving Fabian Johnson to the left wing and playing someone else at left back, but given the unsettled state of the back-line it would be foolish to tinker with one of the players who seems a stable pick for the defense (the Honduras match notwithstanding).

Shea has five weeks to get in shape, get in the Stoke rotation and get on the field. He needs to do that to make Klinsmann’s decision easy, and the U.S. team needs him to do that because left wing options are pretty scarce these days.

That might sound like a lot of responsibility to place on a young player like Shea, but after making a multi-million dollar move to the English Premier League, Shea had better start getting used to increased responsibilities and expectations.


  1. The fact that everyone is getting so excited about Shea scoring in a reserve game underscores the obvious, that the US has no really good options for fast wing players. Always hopeful, we all want to read the tea leaves and believe Shea will become the kind of player he has shown flashes of. Of course as others have noted, he is not that good a crosser of the ball and he has defensive lapses and he is sometimes not the smartest player out there, but he does have some physical tools that could pay off.

    • “The fact that everyone is getting so excited about Shea scoring in a reserve game underscores the obvious, that the US has no really good options for fast wing players”

      That is not true.

      The US has Gatt and, while not as fast, Bedoya. And down the line there is Gyau. And DMB and Pontius, should he ever stay healthy.

      And of course, it is always possible Landon will return.

      US fans get excited over anything. When George John was on trial with West Ham he scored a goal in a reserve game against some team whose name I can’t even remember and everyone went nuts.

      And we all know how that trial turned out.

      You’ve got people writing Stu Holden into their World Cup starting midfields even though he basically has only had a couple of reserve team matches. Getting through some sessions without getting hurt or breaking down is one thing showing good form is another thing and it’s too early to judge that.

  2. Give Davis a chance on left wing, he hasn’t been given the opportunity to show what he can do. I think he had a very good game against Canada(I know they are an inferior opponent) but he made things happen that no one else did. Just sayin

  3. My dream lineup. Not going to put all those disclaimers on players. We all know the situations.




    Fabian——–Besler————Cameron——–Cherundolo (or Chandler)


  4. Hopefully Shea will add a little silk to their leg-breaking, orcish anti-football. In all seriousness though, I can really see him succeeding in the Premier League.

    Hate Stoke. Like Shea. Love Geoff Cameron.

    • I struggle with your position because whether Houston or Stoke Cameron has always been playing in a very controlled 442. Shea is a wild card but I’ve felt like Houston and Stoke were mirror images so it’s hard for me to separate Cameron out from playing this particular style. In fact, I think Cameron sometimes goes to sleep on his marks when he’s not neck-deep in the instinctive physical team defensive approach of these sides.

  5. Shea beating somebody on the dribble. Shea’s tearing up teams on the dribble. I thought this was not allowed in MLS and youth soccer across the USA? Hmm..anyone remember F Johnson turning inside out a Brazilian defender and assisting on a Gomez goal? How dare that happen in MLS and youth soccer. USMNT? Just saying.

  6. Shea beating somebody on the dribble. Shea’s tearing up teams on the dribble. I thought this was not allowed in MLS and youth soccer across the USA? Hmm..anyone remember F Johnson turning inside out a Brazilian defender and assisting on a Gomez goal? How dare that happen in MLS and youth soccer. USMNT? Just saying.

    • Time for Emelec – Velez Sarsfield. Copa Libertadores. Of course I love the Bundesliga, but I’m a bigger fan of GOOD soccer anywhere anytime. Velez Sarsfield moving well and shifting well on defense and offense..I say they are early favorites…we’ll see score later.

  7. Both Shea and Eddie Johnson would be well served by somebody like Besler at cb who can pass out of the back. The problem is that JK insists on playing cameron at cb – even tho he is a top-top fullback for one of the best defences in the EPL because if he moves Cameron to fb he will have to drop either Johnson or Chandler and it wont be Johnson.

    We are stuck and spinning our wheels.

    • But, your Excellency, it would be totally unfair to bench Chandler (or not call him up) after Chandler worked so hard to, ahem, earn his spot as a USMNT starter. I mean, gee whiz, Chandler played two games for the USMNT from Novevember 2011 through today. Count ‘em, in 15 months Chandler has worked his butt off playing two games for the USMNT, including his masterpiece last week Honduras which cemented his position as a USMNT starter and as our designated right back for at least the next 15 or 20 years no doubt about it.

    • Excellency,

      About a year ago this time the word on Cameron was that he was the CB with the passing skills to work the ball out of the back and solve the US deficit in that area.

      In other last year;s Besler or maybe Besler is this year’s Cameron.

    • I think it makes sense to start Eddie, because he can score goals, and sub in Shea in case the opponents defence is being successful in stopping Eddie.

  8. Shea is a player of obvious talent who needs to push harder on two way work ethic, get a little sharper. There are some issues with the youth-senior transition but that happens with many players, he’s just 22. The people who are making their mind up on a talented player of 22 years are off their rocker. Same could be said of those giving a definitive theory that Agudelo is a washout.

    In terms of his FCD history, he did have a year of 11 goals, although he butted heads with his coach. With how FCD has done lately, I’m not sure if that’s a badge of honor or a bad sign. For one thing I thought Hyndman brought him along slooooooooooooooooooooow. Three years to break through the 20 appearance barrier. Side thought: if he can play fine for the US why do I care what he did for Hyndman? I’m setting up a US roster not a Dallas alumni game. I have the same complaint about Lichaj, people have seen him play well for the US, how long do you hold him out based on the mess at Villa?

    Now he’s with a more structured team that has a history of decent results under the coach. That history gives Pulis power. Shea will either give the required effort and production or not. Since I think he’s facing the same leap from dance champion to two-way winger Dempsey once had to make, there are worse things than putting him in a serious structured environment. The question is if Shea gets fitter, works harder two ways, starts routinely making his passes and finishes.

    If he does that, he’s a special talent to start with, at a need position, who might be more useful to us than EJ, Zusi, or a list of similarly frustrating players getting time in his place. On that basis alone, he should be in the mix, based on potential. Him, Agudelo, some of the other kids, you have to give them time to develop, you don’t flush them yet. If they’re still frustrating at 25 you move to the next prospects. But you don’t win internationally with mere workhorses, so you need to be trying to find players with his kind of flair.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      “Shea is a player of obvious talent who needs to push harder on two way work ethic, get a little sharper. There are some issues with the youth-senior transition but that happens with many players, he’s just 22. The people who are making their mind up on a talented player of 22 years are off their rocker. Same could be said of those giving a definitive theory that Agudelo is a washout.”


      Shea was in U.S. Residency in Bradenton, Florida then signed straight out of high school. He has 98 appearances for Dallas and 15 US caps.

      Every player is different of course but for the sake of comparison, Man U.’s Nani and Valencia were both around 22 when they moved to Man U and Wigan respectively. Nani had 58 games for Sporting under his belt and Valencia had about 134 games for a variety of clubs including Wigan and had played in the 2006 World Cup with Ecuador.

      “”he’s just 22”. Chronological age is one thing but actual experience in the game is another.

      In those terms, Shea is at the point where he really should be ready to have a break out year for Stoke.

      Contrast that with someone like Pontius, for example. Chris is three years older than Shea but made his pro debut later and has only 101 appearances for DC , doubtless due to all the injuries and getting started later. So even though he is older, Pontius may not be as ready as Shea to move abroad.

      “Side thought: if he can play fine for the US why do I care what he did for Hyndman? I’m setting up a US roster not a Dallas alumni game. “

      The main issue in those kinds of cases appears to be maintaining “match fitness.” A couple of scrimmages with the boys may not be enough.

      From 2008 – 2009 Bradley gave Adu something of a “trial” with the USMNT” giving him 9 caps in 2008 and 3 more in 2009.

      This coincided roughly with a period when he had about 22 appearances for Benfica (2008 season) which dropped to about 11 in the following year at Monaco.

      In spite of that in 2009 BB took Freddy, never the fittest player in the first place, to South Africa with the Confederations Cup team, where he did not get on the field and then put him on the Gold Cup roster where he started one game then left for Europe to train.

      This in contrast to 2008 where he did well enough to get nine caps.

      I don’t know why BB took Freddy to both the Confed Cup and the Gold Cup. My guess is he maybe he was trying to get him sharp enough to play and maybe impress someone for a move but apparently that did not work out.

      BB learned his leasson and did not call Adu back until he had that nice run with his club in Turkey just before the 2011 Gold Cup. Where, by the way, Freddy did well. It’s clear even. Adu performs better when he is in match fit condition. It’s also clear unless and until Freddy repeats his Turkey thing, he ain’t getting back on the field for the USMNT.

      “..about Lichaj, people have seen him play well for the US”

      In his case, in addition to the fitness issue, you have what I call the familiarity issue.

      It’s one thing to play MB90, Gooch, Jay Demerit , or Landon Donovan even when they are short of club games. Those are guys Bradley knew very, very well. He knew just how far to go with them and what he could expect out of them. And of course there are always subs. And more to the point every time I saw Bradley do it seemed like he was either trying to get them fitter or Bradley was desperate.

      As far as I know JK has never even met Lichaj. The fact that Bradley liked him does not mean JK has to.

      And JK isn’t desperate for fullbacks. On the right, in no particular order he has Dolo, Chandler, Cameron, Fabian, Evans, Castillo, Parkhurst, Morales, MOFiscal, etc., etc., On the left he has, again in no particular order, Fabian, Chandler, Parkhurst, Castillo, Cameron , Morrow, etc., etc.. and I didn’t mention Spector or Besler who I bet could play either fullback slot.

      Unlike you I was not that impressed with Lichaj. I felt he impressed largely because everyone was comparing him to Bornstein. And his last appearance was 16 months ago, when he gave away the ball in the penalty box to Guardado for the eventual tying goal. In the Gold Cup final.

      “ how long do you hold him out based on the mess at Villa?”

      Are you saying the fact that the Villa defense is in shambles and he can’t keep a job even though his competition looks lame can’t be held against him? Lichaj is a contributor to that mess. You call him up when he begins to play well again on a regular basis for Villa and not before.

  9. Remember if you think of Shea as a winger in the formation you need another winger on the other side. If you put F Johnson, Shea, and Beasley in a LW pool that is a quality depth chart. It would be a tie for Fabian and Beasley at the top. Experience being a tie breaker Beasley would be at the top, followed by Fabian, and then Shea. Of course F Johnson can play as a LB too so he is the most versatile at the moment. We have adequate Backs to put Fabian up into midfield. Beasley and F Johnson for LW. On the right you need two Quality RW total. Basically, we need 4 quality wingers who can start for the roster against Costa Rica. Starter and replacement on the bench.

    • “Remember if you think of Shea as a winger in the formation you need another winger on the other side”

      No, you don’t.

      Clubs play with one recognized winger all the time.

  10. 4-3-3 with a healthy Shea and Holden and Cherundolo.

    I also believe this would make Jozy much more effective.






    subs for a 23: Bedoya, Agudelo, EJ, Gatt, Mixx, Zusi, Holden, Edu, Omar, Chandler, Williams, Guzan

    DMB and Parkhurst and Feilhaber would make my cut if dolo, Shea and Holden were not healty.

  11. Shea and feilhaber!!!!!!!!!!! please bradley is a defensive mid not capable of fully contributing to the attack at all times. Bradley-davis-shea-feilhaber for mid.

  12. One has to think Chris Pontius will factor in the equation as well. Both Shea and Pontius are my ideal players to have on the flanks. Donovan is not coming back anytime soon.

    Both Shea and Pontius can play RW/LW, and second striker. Pontius on the right Shea on the left while both can switch wings throughout the game. Could be a recipe for goals. I think Pontius is a much better attacker than Zusi. I like Zusi, but I think Zusi is a situational player. Which means you bring him on as a sub to provide a good deadball free kick or supplies crosses to the FWDS when the USMNT needs a goal. Here is my ideal starting 11 against Costa Rica and Mexico.






    I forsee Klinsmann sticking to the same backline because 1. Dolo is injured and 2. If Gonzo and Cameron are the future then you stick with it period.

    Holden may not be a starter, but I would bet my farm that Holden will be called up.

    Holden can take very good corners and free kicks as well.

  13. The future Brazil starting XI I believe for the USA to be successful is:







  14. I think true dynamic wingers, like Brek, will stretch the field, giving central players like Bradley more room to work. Wide players will also provide fullbacks Fabian and Timmy more support and partners going forward. Decent wingers might just be the key to the puzzle.

    One question though: Who plays RM/RW oppoiste Brek on the left? I can’t help but look forward to a Shea/Gatt wing combo!

    • Glad you mentioned that, Danny. Reminds me that against Russia in Novermber Gatt did a solid job on the right wing. So what does Klinsmann The Tinkerer do, well, he tinkers, of course. He switches Gatt to the left wing for the recent Canada friendly instead of giving him more time to acclimate to the right wing for possible duty in WCQ games. Why does Klinsmann do this? Heck I don’t know.

    • If he does use wingers i would expect Jurgen to use an unbalaced formation not a return to a bradley 442;





      11: Winger: Shea, Donovan, Gatt, DMB?

      9: CF’s Gomez, Jozy

      10: 2nd ST’s Dempsey

      7&8: CM’s Bradley, Zusi, Jones

      6: Anchor Edu, Williams

      With fullbacks that like to hold high lines and cross balls into the attack the is no need for two wingers, especially when we dont have them.

  15. i hope he can do it and be there for those games. and honestly, in regards to the part about moving Johnson up, i would rather just put Castillo at LM and leave Johnson at LB…assuming Beasley is not called up (which i hope he is).

    • Actually, Shea has at least two assists, both coming against Mexico, both late in games, one in a draw and another in a win in Mexico City.

      • Ives i believe Boyd got the assist on the Orozco-Fiscal game winner in Mexico City, but it was Shea breaking down a defender and drawing another toward him before he slid the ball over that started the play.

      • One assist against Mexico in 2011. In 2012, against Mexico, Boyd to Orozco-Fiscal for the goal. Shea did make the pass to Boyd, though.

    • Factoid: he also provided the assist to Deuce in the firendly against Honduras.

      Factoid: During Klinsmann early tenure when Brek Shea was the starting LW; Shea accounted for most of the USMNT’s attacking moves while leading the USMNT in scoring opportunities. 9 scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Boom. That was while both Deuce and Donovan were in and out of Klinsmanns starting 11.

      • Merely operating as a functional wing made Shea a dynamic player for us.

        When Bradley got the ball in the middle, he was able to look to Shea as an option on the outside. When Altidore got the ball up top, he was able to play it to a streaking Shea, as he’s accustomed to finding the winger in AZ.

        Shea doesn’t have to be awesome to impact the team. He’s just gotta be a winger.

    • who would you have use instead? we are clearly in need of speed and width. beasley is a reasonable option but beyond him i just dont see many people that should have a shot ahead of shea.

    • people need to get over national team stats anyway. these games occur so inconsistently (not just in terms of dates, but also in terms of importance) that stats are definitely misleading

      • What, based off of two goals against Antigua?

        Stop thinking about stats. Having Shea as a genuine sideline threat opens up the middle of the field for our playmakers.

      • Based off 3 goals and 1 assist in almost 7 full matches. Let’s not forget Dempsey went scoreless against Antigua

        Shea: 10 full matches, 1 assist

      • I am sorry, regardless of where Klinsmann uses him he is not a true winger. His crosses are poor and his tracking back really isn’t great. Not a like for like choice to me

      • But national team stats span such a wide range of games and situations, in many ways they might be about as useful as keeping track of goals and assists in training.

      • A reason I continue to think Wondo will continue to be in the national team picture. I think he is a smarter player than EJ, or Boyd and while he is not as physically imposing as Altidore or Boyd, he does continually move to find good spots and stretch the defense. Also, he is no older than Gomez, Beasley or Donavon.

        Where statistics work is with bigger numbers, like multiple seasons of games. No other US player during any 3 season stretch in MLS has done as well at scoring, or even come close, Twellman had a long MLS career and had goals in 3 seasons that came close, but that was over several years and was punctuated by injuries and recoveries. Similarly for Donavon, but Donavon does other things much better.

    • I do remember Shea’s comical misses, including an absolute sitter.

      However, Shea has contributed outside of stats. I would like to see how many wins we had vs. losses vs. ties with him in the game or coming off the bench. I would imagine he’s a player who has made a positive difference in those stats. And wins > individual stats.

      • I know I am going to take some heat, but here goes…

        Everything is based upon previous USMNT playing history as well as a trend of players that perform consistently, trending downward, and trending upward in the past 5 years. Basically, players that made an offensive impact as a forward or mid given their time on the field.

        Freddy Adu, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Stuart Holden – before injury, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez, Graham Zusi

        Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore

        Interesting trend I noticed, Jozy’s performance trended down over the past five years on the USMNT.

        The worst player, consistently on the roster: Maurice Edu

      • Adu needs to be in the team for the Nats based solely on his play for the US. I dont care how he’s doing for his club. Does Mexico take Dos Santos or Vela out when they dont get club minutes – no. Plus, Adu played fine for Philly.

  16. “And in case you hadn’t noticed in last week’s USA loss to Honduras, the U.S. team could certainly use a player just like Shea [might be if he lives up to the potential we project on him] right now.” US definitely needs a speedy winger who can create space in the offensive third, play off the strikers, shoot from range, and score his own goals. Shea might be a reasonable version of that.

    • I know brad davis is not speedy but i think he would do well enough at international level. At least against concacaf teams. I know hes 30 or over but he is very smart, can shoot from distance, excellent crosser, free-kick taker, and he tracks back on defense. I would rather see shea but if not, then i would rather see davis than eddie out of position on the left again.

  17. Gradual good news…First Holden getting his fitness back and gradually coming back, and now Brek looks to be ready as a first-team selection….Keep the good news coming!…Hopefully Landon will snap out of it and come back with a new drive and hunger for the game….

  18. I’m hoping Shea can add some ball control and general awareness with his move/higher competition. He could…could, be a beast on the wing.

  19. Right on. If Shea is playing regularly he has to be an option on the left. And I agree with bringing Beasley in. He can fill in that spot. I like the rejuvenated Eddie Johnson but he cannot defend against Mexico.

  20. This would be ideal. The USMNT is stocked with central players. True wingers are what we need to open up the pitch and make use of our target men like E Johnson and Clint Dempsey. Go Brek!

  21. I can’t help but remember how awesome Brek looked at times in the early Klinsmann days, and how lethal his link ups and combined runs down the left were with Fabian Johnson and Tim Chandler, and hope like hell we get to see that again next month vs Costa Rica and, so help me God, in Mexico. I know it’s quite a bit of heart over head but I don’t really care… C’mon Brek, do work!!

    • I cant help but remember how pedestrian he looked most of the time for FC Dallas over the past four years however I hope he turns it up in the EPL and becomes the player we all hope he’ll become. This is a good start

      • Brek has rarely looked pedestrian at FCD. He has always been a cut above. Last year, while playing with a loose bone in his foot, he still looked exceptional most of the time. He didn’t produce the goals, but he was always a terror up and down the wing.

  22. Shea’s speed on the wing would be such a relief for F. Johnson and it would take so much pressure off the midfielders if he could keep possession at a quick pace.

    • The problem is Shea is not ready. He needs more time in the EPL to raise his game

      Shea still:

      * Cuts inside too much on the wing

      * Needs to dribble better in 1 v 1

      * Needs to look up before he crosses, 99% he throw up a prayer


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