Brek Shea Is Having A Rough Week

Maybe the lanky Dallas winger had already been informed of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans not to include him in this week’s national-team camp when he lashed out in frustration like this last Saturday:

But either way, the outburst (good stiff-upper-lip reaction from the linesman, btw) earned Shea a three-game suspension from Major League Soccer. Incredibly, he wasn’t even carded for it during the game (way to get your linesman’s back, ref), but the league’s new Disciplinary Committee stepped in on Thursday and gave Shea a three-game break.

And you know what? Maybe that’s just what he needs. He’s been run ragged after more than a year of FC Dallas games, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches, national-team appearances and commitments to the U.S. U-23s. It seems like he still hasn’t recovered, as his MLS form has dipped noticeably this season.

Some time off may be just what the doctor ordered, and hopefully will return Shea to the form he found last season, when he did things like this:

U.S. U-23s Blank Atlanta Silverbacks in Final Tuneup Before Olympic Qualifying

The U.S. U-23 national team opens the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament with a match against Cuba on Thursday (9:00 ET, Universal Sports Network, Telemundo), and yesterday, they wrapped up their preparation with a scrimmage against NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks in Nashville.

The Olympic hopefuls got two goals from FC Dallas winger Brek Shea and one from LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens en route to a 3-0 win.

Here’s some postgame commentary from Montreal Impact defender Zarek Valentin and Houston Dynamo wingback Kofie Sarkodie, along with some highlights. Note Mainz midfielder Jared Jeffrey’s extremely sweet feet at the 1:17 mark:

U.S. coach Caleb Porter will name his final qualifying roster today.

If the Soccer Doesn’t Work Out, Brek Shea Can Always Fall Back on Table Tennis

Here’s a clip from U.S. Soccer featuring pitched battles on the crucible of … the ping-pong table at the national team’s training center between Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo, and Heath Pearce.

Shea, whom Agudelo dubs “Avatar” for his frame-filling presence at the other end of the table, can play.

Check it out below, and be sure to stay till the end for the choreographed celebration between Shea and Agudelo. Will we see that on Saturday vs Venezuela?

USMNT: Quick Hits on Honduras Win

It took four games, but Jurgen Klinsmann finally locked up his first win as coach of the U.S. national team as the Yanks edged Honduras 1-0 in Miami this past Saturday.

Clint Dempsey scored a beautiful goal just before halftime and Tim Howard made several excellent saves to preserve the lead in rainy, windy conditions at Sun Life Stadium.

The Americans could have—should have—added to their margin at least twice as Brek Shea and Oguchi Onyewu each missed sitters in the second half.

Three quick hits on the game:

1. Comeback Kids—Well, maybe they’re not kids—they’re both 29—but centerback Oguchi Onyewu and winger DaMarcus Beasley both returned to the team after long absences, and both performed well.

Onyewu, who is getting regular playing time for Sporting Clube de Portugal (don’t call it Sporting Lisbon), looked confident and steady—a lot like the quality player he was before a ruptured patellar tendon derailed his career in Oct 2009. Even if he missed a wide-open net on the rebound of Dempsey’s shot in the 66th minute.

Beasley was active and dangerous in his 25-minute cameo on the left wing. He combined well with Dempsey a few times, and looked very capable of staying in the USMNT picture. He has two goals for Puebla this season.

2. The Sons of Thomas Dooley—Klinsmann played against Dooley, the first German-American player to make a splash with the U.S. team, and he is continuing the tradition that brought the former Schalke 04 defender to these shores, tapping Hoffenheim’s Danny Williams for this camp, and giving another nod to Nuremberg’s Timmy Chandler. Both looked like worthy additions to the pool.

Williams lined up in right midfield and nearly scored 30 minutes into his debut, curling a shot just over the top left corner from 18 yards out. He also had a diving header blocked in the 45th minute.

Chandler may end up being the starting left back for the U.S. when World Cup qualifying begins next year. He’s a little raw, but extremely athletic, and he combined well with rising star Shea on the left.

Speaking of…

3. Brek Shea: A Bro Who Keeps Things Extremely Chill

The 21-year old winger who just doesn’t like “normal haircuts” recently did a live chat with MLS fans on Facebook, and, as the MLS Insider noted, got the following question: “Brek you seem like a bro who keeps things extremely chill. What’s your secret?”

We have no idea, but whatever it is, it’s working. After a shaky debut against Colombia in Oct 2010, Shea has been consistently effective for the U.S. in five subsequent appearances. He should have scored his first USMNT goal (he has one assist) when Jozy Altidore put it on a platter for him in the 53rd minute, but apart from that flub, he had another excellent game.

So what is his secret? Maybe it’s the painting—did you know Shea’s an artist in his spare time? Check it out here (really).

Another fun fact about Shea: he’s the first player born in the 1990s to make an appearance for the full national team.

Honduras highlights:

Klinsmann’s boys return to action tonight at Red Bull Arena, where they’ll take on Ecuador (7:00 pm ET, ESPN2).

U.S. 1, Mexico 1: Klinsmann Era Off to a Respectable Start

It started slowly, with Mexico dominating possession for the first 55 minutes, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s debut as U.S. coach picked up steam in the second half and finished at full throttle.

Despite Mexico’s early dominance, El Tri did not create a lot of chances—as Klinsmann cheerfully pointed out at halftime. The 17th-minute goal the visitors scored came from a half-chance, as Oribe Peralta stabbed in a cross around Michael Bradley, who was marking him tightly. A well taken, opportunistic goal, but it wasn’t like the U.S. D had been carved open.

They never were, and then, with the 60th-minute introductions of Brek Shea and Juan Agudelo, the U.S. turned the tide completely. That duo produced a nice exchange in the 73rd minute, with Shea doing well to get to the endline and square it for Robbie Rogers, who’d just entered the game, for a tap-in equalizer.

The U.S. poured it on after the goal, with Jose Torres shooting just wide in the 74th minute, Landon Donovan drawing a legitimate penalty claim in the 77th, and Shea and Rogers both putting solid shots on goal before Rogers was flagrantly pulled down by Gerrardo Torrado on a breakaway—a clear-cut red-card offense that only drew yellow.

It was a strong finish by the U.S., sparked by MLSers Donovan, Agudelo, Rogers and, especially Shea, who played well enough to completely erase the memory of his shaky USMNT debut against Colombia last October. He set up the U.S. goal, nearly scored one of his own, and also shined defensively.

Here are the highlights:

The U.S. plays Costa Rica on Sept 2 at the Home Depot Center, then travels to Brussels to take on Belgium on Sept 6.

Looks like FC Dallas will have to do without their leading scorer for the first week of September.

Brek Shea Welcomes Torsten Frings to MLS

In a moment that fans of the U.S. national team hope to see repeated often this year, former German international Torsten Frings—the man whose uncalled handball prevented a U.S. goal in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinal—was torched in a sequence that led to a goal in his MLS debut for Toronto FC.

Rising American star Brek Shea of FC Dallas did the honors, shedding Frings and launching a run before finishing with a lethal strike off the post.

Check it out:

Shea’s goal—his ninth of the season—stood up for a 1-0 Dallas win, and pushed the Hoops’ record to 11-5-5.

Toronto has acquired seven new players in recent weeks, and started five of them in the match. Frings and his fellow new designated player Danny Koevermans both got the nod, along with Ryan Johnson, Andy Iro, and Guadeloupe international Eddy Viator, who was signed earlier in the day and pressed into action as Richard Eckersley, the regular right back, sat out due to yellow card accumulation.

Koevermans and Frings each forced good saves from Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman in the first half.

Brek Shea’s Winner vs Los Angeles: We Report, You Decide

It was an odd one between FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy last night in Frisco, Texas.

There was a heavy rain falling for much of the match, and after the teams had traded goals early in the second half (Fabian Castillo for Dallas, LD for LA), the referee suspended play in the 82nd minute due to lightning in the area.

For a while, it was unclear whether the game would be resumed, and the stands emptied out.

Finally, after an hour-and-six-minute rain delay, the players trotted back onto the field, in front of the mostly empty seats, and warmed up for ten minutes.

Then it was game on.

Six minutes later Brek Shea got free down the left and did this:

So … did he mean to?

Afterward he said—apparently with a straight face; or maybe he deadpanned it, we weren’t there—that he meant to chip the keeper.

Near the start of his run he checks the middle to see who’s available (cross).

But then he puts his head down and drives toward goal (shot!).

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments, and go check out our recap of MLS Week 7 right here.

U.S. 0, Colomb—zzzzzz—Huh? What? … Oh, Right: Colombia 0

Villa youngster Lichaj was the lone bright spot.

Last night’s dull 0-0 draw between the U.S. and Colombia at PPL Park yielded exactly one positive talking point for the Yanks: the assured debut of 21-year-old right back Eric Lichaj (that’s LEE-high).

ESPN’s Julie Foudy reported that she had spoken with Lichaj before the game and asked if he had any butterflies. He told her no, he wasn’t nervous, because he believed his time fighting up through the ranks at Aston Villa had prepared for occasions like last night.

Then he went out and proved it by playing with poise and energy. He swung in a great ball for Jozy Altidore to snap down on net (right at the keeper, unfortunately for the U.S.); he was solid defensively; and he did well in possession. It was a quality debut and Lichaj looks to have a bright future.

As for the rest of the game, well, here’s a telling fact: the U.S. didn’t get a shot on goal until the 53rd minute.

The Sons of Ben and the rest of the good folks who showed up deserved better.

Here are three quick hits on the forgettable game:

Brek Shea Was the Anti-Lichaj

It’s remarkable how much you can tell from a player’s body language and on-field demeanor. From the minute Lichaj stepped on the field it was clear that he was serious about playing well. He looked relaxed and determined—and he played the same way.

Shea was the exact opposite. He looked nervous and tentative, and every time he got the ball he seemed to want to play the safe option—back or square. He pinched in too tight, and he never once took on a Colombian one v one. The entire purpose of his presence on the field was to get wide and run at defenders.

No, not a great debut for the rangy Texan, but he’s a talented player, and he’s only 20—chalk it up to opening-night jitters.

How was that U.S. formation a 4-3-3?

ESPN introduced the starting U.S. lineup as a 4-3-3—calling Altidore, Shea and Holden strikers—and kept referring to it as such for the entire first half. Some of today’s reports on the game did the same.

What we saw was a 4-5-1 or maybe a 4-3-2-1; but however you slice it up, Shea and Holden were not playing as forwards last night. They were midfielders, wingers—the same position Shea plays for FC Dallas and the one Holden has played for the U.S. in the past (he plays in central MF for Bolton).

What was with the insistence that Bradley had lined up a 4-3-3? If we missed something, let us know in the comments.

Three Defensive Midfielders: Brought to You by Bad Idea Jeans.

It was mighty crowded in the U.S.’s three five-man midfield last night, and not only because Shea and Holden were pinching in too much.

The primary cause of the congestion was Bradley’s decision to start three holding midfielders—Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu. These guys are very similar players who look for the ball in the same spots and—no surprise—they got in each other’s way last night.

The U.S. coach scrapped the idea at halftime.

That’s it for the USMNT for about a month. Their next game is against South Africa in Cape Town on November 17.

Bradley Calls 20 for October Friendlies

FC Dallas’s 20-year-old winger Brek Shea and Aston Villa’ 18-year-old defender Eric Lichaj received their first call-ups to the U.S. national team as Bob Bradley tapped 20 Yanks yesterday for upcoming friendlies against Poland (Oct 9) and Colombia (Oct 12).

Schalke 04 midfielder Jermaine Jones, 28—who withdrew from the August friendly against Brazil to remain in preseason with his Bundesliga club—was also called, and has a chance to make his first appearance in a U.S. shirt.

Bradley noted that this is a critical stretch for MLS teams as they push toward the playoffs, so the roster is almost entirely composed of European-based players, the only exceptions being Shea and his Dallas teammate, Heath Pearce, both of whom are only on board for the Colombia game at PPL Park in Chester, PA.

An all-European group will face Poland at Soldier Field in Chicago (where there is a significant Polish population, led by Bob and Bill Swerski, and Carl Wollarski).

Here’s the entire roster:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)

DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia M’Gladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Eddie Johnson (Fulham)

Three quick hits:

Any Surprises? Lichaj getting the nod, at 18, is a slight surprise, and a pleasant one. But why no other young defenders? The backline veterans—Cherundolo, Boca, etc—are not going to be around for Brazil 2014. The inclusion of the 6-3 Shea is also a nice surprise, and should give him a boost after his straight red against New York two weeks ago and subsequent two-game suspension.

Players to watch: Tops on the list is the much-ballyhooed Jones, the hard-nosed Bundesliga vet who couldn’t quite get healthy in time for SA 2010. Let’s see if the hype was true. Next up, for us, is Holden, who’s off to a terrific start with Bolton in the Premier League. Then there’s Bedoya, who scored, and got ejected, for his club team this week.

Where are all the U.S. strikers? With the absence of Bobby Zamora from Fulham’s lineup, Dempsey has been playing up top this season, but he’s not a pure forward. That leaves Altidore and Johnson, (who’s also been affected by the Zamora injury: he’s getting PT as a result).

Is that really all there is? As Jamie Carragher would say, “Shaw-keh.”