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Things just keep getting worse for U.S. winger Brek Shea

Sep 3, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT

Fulham v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

The final transfer window frenzy was unkind to U.S. winger Brek Shea, who really cannot catch a break these days. It’s yet another cautionary tale for U.S. men who flee the relative safety of Major League Soccer for overseas ambition. The lesson is this: It’s not just about getting a contract overseas (or in higher paying Mexico), it’s about getting into the right situation.

Shea has found one hurdle after another since his move abroad earlier this year to Stoke City. The Premier League club’s plan for the young winger seemed a bit wishy-washy right away, probably connected to a lingering injury. Was he there to push for immediate minutes, or there to apprentice for the coming 2013-14 campaign?

Either way, playing time last spring was sparse, to say the least. Watching Shea languish further irritated U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who was never a fan of the move out of FC Dallas to begin with.

Shea did get back into the U.S. national team scene this summer. The results were a mixed bag, but at least he was back in the game.

Shortly afterward, Shea was the victim of a terrible tackle during a Stoke City friendly in Philadelphia. Back on the injury shelf he went.

So he will be helpless as a couple of new arrivals into Stoke City make their cases. The most exciting is Marko Arnautovic, an Austrian international who is just a little older than Shea (Arnautovic is 24) but already with far more professional experience. He can play as a forward or (yikes!) out wide.

Just a year older is Dutch League-trained Moroccan international Oussama Assaidi, who will arrive into The Britannia on loan from Liverpool. Of course, incumbent winger Matthew Etherington is still around to gobble up the minutes out wide.

Shea has talent and moxy; he can elbow his way into the rotation once healthy and fit. The trouble is, he’s losing ground every single day – not only around Stoke, but in positioning for a possible, utterly invaluable spot on Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup team next year in Brazil.

  1. ajayrayj - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    I think Steve Davies needs to consider a new career. Every single article from his is heavily biased and doesn’t nearly touch on the entire situation.

    Arnautovic is a support striker and RW. He doesn’t play LW at all. Like…..ever.

    Assaidi can play LW and has but is also naturally right footed. Could easily spend time at RW.

    Etherington is competition at LW but also is old and hasn’t been all that good in awhile.

    This isn’t nearly as poor a situation as Mr Davies wants to make it out to be. And he takes a slight at players leaving MLS, nevermind that Shea is probably well ahead of where he is right now is Stoke had in fact not scheduled a friendly against that MLS team named Philly and he wasn’t hacked down near mid field with an awful challenge by some MLS no talent hack.

    • thegreatjackdavis - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:27 PM


      • 77cjh77 - Sep 4, 2013 at 11:52 AM


        you sir, are a tool

    • takethelongview - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:36 AM

      You can win this argument when Shea does, indeed, win his way into the lineup. Although that wouldn’t disprove the Davis thesis, come to think of it. And, for those following the progress of ex-MLSers overseas, the Davis Thesis (“it has to be the right situation”) had more than just Shea/Stoke City in mind. He didn’t need to mention it but there is a long, long list of US emigre players who have languished in Europe before winning their chances. Some never do. (Davis could as easily have written about Tim Ream or Maurice Edu.) Even our success stories–Dempsey, Altidore, Bradley–have had phases such as this during their European sojourns. Apply the Davis Thesis to the urgency of winning regular playing time in a World Cup year…and I think his point is entirely on target, whether or not he fully grasps the nuances of the Stoke City depth chart.

      • ajayrayj - Sep 4, 2013 at 3:11 AM

        Ream is in a good situation this year at Bolton. Edu did very well in Turkey last year and did well in Scotland. He’s just staying at Stoke due to being stubborn. He has opportunities in France and Turkey, he’s simply choosing not to take them.

        It’s not a straight line to the top. Go to a more competitive environment where it’s more cutthroat and it’ll naturally be more rocky. Not being in a great situation is part of the battle. Happens to many players. That’s part of taking on the challenge. You battle and learn from it. It’s experience. It’s often better than being in a bad situation in MLS as you’ll likely be stuck with that team until your contract runs out. In Europe if they don’t want you they generally loan you out or sell you. You move on. Much more than MLS.

        If Shea wasn’t going to play he’d likely have been loaned out.

  2. mfmaxpower - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Agreed, this story is a bit melodramatic.

    There’s nothing really wrong with Shea’s situation aside from being injured. Once he gets healthy, if his mind is right and he works hard, he shouldn’t have much trouble earning playing time at Stoke.

    With pretty-much a full season still to play, Shea’s still got plenty of time to earn his USMNT spot. And he’s not really losing ground at Stoke – once he’s fit, Stoke are desperate enough for quality on the pitch, and quality depth, that Shea will get his chances.

    (And what’s the deal with the whole “cautionary tale” about moving overseas? Seriously? Shea got injured – playing an MLS team mind you. Injuries happen, nothing more. Jheez, give the guy a real shot before you call him out for moving overseas.)

    • ajayrayj - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      Yeah, I don’t get this crap about going overseas being a cautionary tale. Davies admits himself it’s a more ambitious route, and like with anything in life, when you take the more ambitious route, leave your comfort zone and do what others aren’t willing to do, there will be bump in the roads.

      Davies admits MLS is the safer option. Well, of course it is. But just because not everyone who goes to Europe will succeed and just because it’s not easy over there and there can be bumps in the road doesn’t make it a poor decision. the end result could be far better than just staying stateside in your comfort zone.

      And ya know, if MLS had better coaches who actually taught the game and were tactically astute, the transition would be easier. Shea had the balls to make the jump. Yes he’s struggling, a huge part due to injuries, but you know what, FCD didn’t do a great job of developing him. Never really taught him the game. But apparently Davies thinks it would have been better for Shea to stay in a situation where he wasn’t getting developed all that well.

      • mrstev - Sep 4, 2013 at 3:39 AM

        First, who is this Davies person you keep referring to?
        Second, what exactly are your credentials that anyone should listen to you?
        Lastly, it’s one thing to disagree with an article and put forth a educated counter-point. I can respect that. But you appear to be more interested in hating on the writer and being a general douchebag.
        Oh, and while I don’t always agree with him, Steve Davis makes some pretty dead-on points here. Then again, maybe he’s just looking to push your buttons.

      • randomhookup - Sep 4, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        Charlie Davies, of course.

  3. hildezero - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Damn. What’s wrong with this so called greatness of “Jack Davis”?

  4. schmutzdeck - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    It is always a good idea to try to find the “right situation”. In this case, did y’all expect Shea to know that Pulis would be fired?

    MLS might have been a more stable path for Brek but he seems to have wanted more money and more of an adventure. In any event he is an adult and a free man and has chosen a path that is potentially higher risk and higher reward. Good for him.

    Your view of the transfer market results strike me as overly alarmist. These new guys have just as good a chance to fail as Brek does. At least he has now been there a while longer.

    Besides, he has the talent, now I want him to prove he can beat serious competition and actually WIN a job. That made Clint a better player and it will make Brek a better player for the USMNT.

    If he is not good enough to win a job then he is dead to me.

    I want the best players possible representing the US , guys who actually knows what it means to fight to win something, not some spineless, chicken s+++, entitled weenie who has been protecting himself by hiding in MLS and is just good enough to get on the WC squad.

  5. rarosell - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Shea, like Holden, is very injury prone. This is what has ruined his career, not his move to Stoke. The move to Stoke was something that any player in his position would have done, but he’s been derailed by his darn injuries.

    I was never real a big fan of Shea, he had some great times with Dallas but also disappeared on the field for a good portion of games. But his great times were truly great, some tremendous goals, shots, dribbles, some fantastic plays altogether.

  6. bishopofblunder - Sep 4, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    I don’t know if Shea misses FC Dallas, but FC Dallas sure misses Shea.

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