Under Orlando City SC head coach Adrian Heath, the versatile US international is making a seemingly successful transition to left-back.
Orlando City SC star Brek Shea might have failed to make the grade in England with Stoke City but head coach and ex-Potter Adrian Heath has been more than pleased with his recent transition to left-back.
Shea, 25, opted to return to MLS in December after making just five senior appearances in two seasons at the Britannia, joining expansion side Orlando in the hopes of revitalising his stagnating career.
He perhaps didn’t expect his move to include a position switch from midfield to the backline but the versatile American’s performances in his new role have since garnered widespread praise from fans and the media alike during the club’s unbeaten start to their inaugural MLS campaign.
His new boss also given him a glowing review, telling Orlando’s official website: “I think he has progressed. We’ve got a lot of work done. It is a work in progress but when I look at the attributes Brek has, there’s no reason why he can’t play left back.”
Shea’s transition to left-back in fact started even before he began preseason training with Orlando, having been used in a wing-back role during the US national team’s winter training camp and friendlies against Chile and Panama, even scoring against the former.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” the 29-times capped international said. “I like going forward so when I can do that, it’s exciting for me but I have to defend first and that’s my main priority.
“Obviously there are still certain learning situations – it is just going to come with games and experience.”
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has also been a long-time admirer of Shea’s, keeping him around the national team setup even during his Stoke struggles, and, while he didn’t take him to the World Cup in Brazil, the German believes that he could have an important role to fill in the side moving forward.
“Brek Shea has the potential to become a very, very strong left back,” Klinsmann told US Soccer this week. “He’s obviously a guy that always wants to go forward. He can score goals. He can create goals.
“If he learns the defending side of the game, being very physical, very focused, being connected to his center back and holding a line, getting all the tactical elements for what it takes to be a good defender, it adds that card to his portfolio.”
Beginning his professional career with FC Dallas, after being drafted second overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, Shea did spent some time at left-back during his first two seasons with the club, as well as at centre-back, central midfield and even up front, as the coaching staff tried to figure out his best position.
Settling on the left-wing in the end, he would record 19 goals in 98 league appearances during his first MLS spell before departing for Stoke in 2013, having won his first US cap in 2010 and finished as a runner-up for the league’s 2011 MVP award.
Long-considered one of the USA’s most-gifted talents, his reputation took a clear hit during his ill-fated Premier League stint but a new club and new position just might be the ingredients for a career revival.
Furthermore, in Heath, who had two spells at Stoke after beginning his career with the club in 1979, the Texas-native has a coach who is starting to develop a reputation as one of the best man-managers in MLS.