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.