At just over 6ft 2in, with a blonde mohawk, it seems Brek Shea was born to stand out. An athletic wide player with the ability to glide past defenders, the 24-year-old continues to be a polarizing figure for the US Men’s National Team.
Alongside those who recognize and admire his potential are those who believe he will never realize it. Transferred to Stoke City in 2013, his move to England has not seen him earn regular first team opportunities.
It was for that reason Jurgen Klinsmann expressed happiness that the 24-year-old had agreed a loan move to Barnsley in January. Set to remain at Oakwell until April, his time at the club has been cut short following an unfortunate altercation with a fan. Seen making an offensive gesture in the wake of the club’s 5-0 defeat to fierce local rivals Huddersfield Town, it soured what had been a productive loan spell for Shea.
Making eight appearances, it represented his first real consistent exposure to first team soccer in just under a year. Eager to remain positive, Shea told the Stoke Sentinel newspaper:
“At the time I was upset, but now I’ve left it behind me. I can’t really change what happened. The passion of the fans over here is crazy, in a good way, but when things don’t go their way they are upset with their players and that can get out of hand.”
Reflecting on what the coming months hold for him, Shea added:
“I’ve had a lot of experiences, whether good or bad, and I’ve got to learn from them. Hopefully, I can earn a spot in this team. I have to keep my head down, work hard and hope I get my chance.”
While his optimism is admirable, realistically Shea’s situation at Stoke will have changed little following his return to the club. Currently six points above the relegation zone, Stoke are yet to secure Premier League survival. Thus it is unlikely that Hughes would see fit to include a player he was happy to loan out in January — even with the absence of Jonathan Walters through suspension.
Thus the question remains, what next for Brek Shea? Unable to garner another loan deal in England due to the window being shut, he could still return to Major League Soccer. With Toronto FC currently first in the allocation order, it remains to be seen which if any MLS club would be interested in acquiring Shea.
While he remains a talented individual, there is little in the way of a long term benefit to potential suitors. For Shea however the upsides are considerable. Returning to a league that shares similarities to England, it will also give him a solid run of games right up until the World Cup in Brazil.
Realistically MLS is Shea’s only option, and it would be a silly one for him to pass up. A player it seems Klinsmann likes, the former FC Dallas man appears to enjoy a strong relationship with his coach: “He gives me every confidence every time I come up [to the squad],” he recently told mlssoccer.com. “I still think playing for him is pretty cool. He was a great player so when he says stuff like that, it means a lot to me. But you still have to perform every time you get the chance or you won’t get it again.”