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Brek Shea … a left back in the making?

Jan 20, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

Portrait of US player Brek Shea taken be

No sooner had Taylor Twellman’s news breaking Tweet started making the rounds last Friday, that FC Dallas’ Brek Shea had one foot in England as the newest member of Stoke City, than speculation had commenced that he was becoming a left back.

It’s Stoke City, after all. And they do like them some defense at the Britannia.

Personally, I’m not so sure the conversion of Shea to fullback would be imminent.  It is precisely because manager Tony Pulis and the Potters have been able to remain in the Premiership with a doctrine of defense-first that I don’t think the young left winger is bound for a move backward in the arrangement.

He’s certainly OK at the defensive tracking of a midfielder, but he’s not a natural fullback, which means he is not packaged up with a defenders’ instincts and tendencies. So, why would Pulis and Co. trust a midfielder to a responsibility that is so valued, so absolutely essential, around the Stoke City grounds?

If we’re talking about Shea as an outside back at a club where the defenders are encouraged to get up and down the flanks , that’s a different matter.

Either way, Twellman had an interesting take on it, taking the conversation to a different place altogether.

Talking to myself and Marc Stein this morning on Soccer Today, Twellman said he believes converting Shea to an outside back would be a good and productive thing.

His reasoning: For all the positive elements in the young man’s game, his audacity, his ranginess, his combination of speed, power and explosiveness … Shea’s numbers tell the story of an attacker who perhaps does not always make the best connections in the final third. Perhaps he would be better running at defenders from a different set of  starting points, with a different set of choices?

His last two years at FC Dallas, Shea has just six assists (while managing 14 goals). Some of that was down to Dallas’ lack of a quality striker over much of the period, but the point is well made.

  1. tylerbetts - Jan 20, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    I don’t know.

    Maybe I overvalue the moment, but his work to create the game winning assist at Azteca remains the narrative on his potential as a creative playmaker able to set others up.

    He might have the physical skills to play left back, but I feel he’d be sacrificing a bit too much in terms of creativity in attack to play that far back. Especially, as you pointed out, in a defense-first team like Stoke. I think Brek works well in a system that’s designed to defend well and make their chances off of counters. That’s exactly the system he’d be playing in at Stoke as a midfielder.

    Now, as a Left Back for a team in the Netherlands or something? That might be a better question.

  2. petewlsn - Jan 20, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    I’m a country over club guys so i always look towards how does this benefit/hurt the USMNT. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving Brek a shot at LB. Not too long ago CB was the move and a La Liga club wanted him at that spot too (generation adidas spain trip), so he must have some defensive skills. if it came down to who would i rather have in the final third Fabian Johnson or Shea, i go Johnson. every time

  3. capsfan19 - Jan 20, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    On the one hand its cool to see him go to england, but stoke it a bunch of goons

  4. tarotsujimoto74 - Jan 21, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    American Jordi Alba?

  5. mvktr2 - Jan 21, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Until there is some real polish on his career this discussion will continue to crop up, especially when talking about him switching clubs. It was just a couple years ago that people were bragging about the genius, and somewhat questionable at the time, move of putting Shea at LM. It was only a couple years before that when people were arguing and wondering where his landing spot would be. Seems the argument is still brewing.

    It’s quite the testament to players such as he and Cameron that they have both the physical tools (height, speed, foot speed, etc) and skills to switch around and be quite versatile. I like him at LM and hope he stays there, it’s an especially good skill set-match to a 4-3-3 formation for the Nats. However if Cameron were to get moved inside and Shea at LB, the idea of them playing together at club and country for the next half decade or so would be an exciting and impressive proposition.

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