On The Importance of Brek Shea



About mid-afternoon yesterday my phone starting alerting me through text messages and Twitter that another Orlando City rumor was coming through the channels. Brek Shea’s impending arrival did enough to turn a quiet Sunday afternoon into a social media frenzy. The Orlando City faithful exchanged the holiday sugar plums dancing in their heads for a lanky winger with a penchant for scoring dynamic goals.

Well, he used to be like that, at least,before his big move across the Atlantic to Stoke City. Due to injury, manager changes, and a rush of blood to the head directed at then-English Championship side Barnsley supporters, he has only appeared in 17 matches in the last two years — and only three of those for Stoke. The rest came on loan at non-Premier League clubs.

So, a player with a history of injury, who hasn't played much in two years, is signing on to our inaugural campaign. When you put it like that, the Twitter-verse seems to be the home of misplaced hysteria, as usual.

The excitement undoubtedly comes from Shea’s five seasons in MLS in which he played in nearly 100 games, scoring 19 goals for FC Dallas, and his time on the U.S. Men’s National Team, where he has earned 23 caps. These two things combined to show the talent and potential that led Stoke City to invest nearly $4 million for his transfer fee.

Despite the potential — Shea is still a young 25 years old — questions will loom over his impending arrival at Orlando City. However, signing him would be a brilliant move for both the player, the club, and U.S. Soccer. MLS was founded after the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. as part of a deal with FIFA to bring the event to the states. The founding of a professional league was seen as paramount to building the game in the U.S., and by all units of measure MLS has been successful as both a league and a testing ground for American talent.

While Orlando City has grabbed headlines with signings and rumors of top international talent, the club has to continue looking for the best American talent available. Last season's signings of Tyler Turner and Tommy Redding — both budding American defenders — spoke to this importance. The addition of Shea will add a top U.S. player to the club's roster and bring Orlando City into the USMNT fold.

For Orlando City a signing like this means more national and international exposure for the club when Shea gets a call up for the U.S. It means the chance for our young potential national team members to gain experiences with a seasoned veteran of international play. While, in the abstract, it means the potential for other USMNT players to be attracted to Orlando City in the future.

Despite Jürgen Klinsmann's insistence in wanting to see Americans playing at the highest levels in Europe, moves like this benefit the USMNT in the long run. While Shea most certainly trained at a high level while at Stoke City, his lack of competitive matches will always hurt a player's game in the long run. I believe American players who are playing in Europe certainly gain a professional advantage that translates to the national team, but, if they aren't playing, a return to MLS is an excellent opportunity to regain playing time in an increasingly improved league.

MLS gets one of its potential future superstars back into the league. While the league is not lacking stars, the retirement of Landon Donovan does leave a void for a lifelong MLS superstar. Shea’s challenges in Europe are similar in some ways to Donovan’s, and at the age of 25 a return to MLS means Shea has the potential to run riot in the league for the next 10 years.

Consider that — Brek Shea making good on all his potential while wearing the purple of Orlando City for the next 10 years. That is enough to bring the Twitter-verse to a frenzy, even on a quiet Sunday!


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