You know what they say about spiraling times of misfortune like these: If it was raining $20 bills, Brek Shea would surely get conked on the head with a roll of old pennies.
The young U.S. international (at right, in a rare thumbs-up moment of 2012) needs a life timeout or something. He’s having a very bad
week month year.
Yesterday, a story in Dallas’ alternative weekly detailed a conversation that Shea says took place in 2010 between MLS commissioner Don Garber and FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. According to Shea, Garber called Hyndman to deliver a sort of ultimatum: either play the young man or move him elsewhere, via sell or trade.
My first reaction: that certainly doesn’t sound like Garber (nor any right-minded league official). That sounds more like a player’s interpretation of events, possibly (but not certainly) attached to a tangle of informal conversations between players, agents, coaches and power ties in league and team offices.
So I called MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche, who relayed a message from commissioner Garber.
“Decisions about who plays are made by clubs and their technical staffs, not by the league office,” Courtemanche told me.
He didn’t want to address any specific this or that. Courtemanches didn’t say why, exactly, but I think I get it. Shea is having a crappy week – if I’m guessing, construction workers are busily working in the blazing Texas sun at this very minute, constructing a new wing in Hyndman’s dog house for the young left winger – and the league office didn’t want to pile on by making things worse on Shea.
Did I say “crappy week?” Maybe that’s underselling the point. Dallas’ young star is not performing well, he’s being asked to play out of position, he’s not scoring, he’s lost his mojo with the national team and that U.S. Olympic dream went kablooey, his battered MLS team is struggling mightily just to tread water and now the man seems to have gotten sideways with a no-nonsense coach.
Things could only be worse if someone kidnapped Shea’s dog.
So that’s why the league passed on addressing this specific situation. Besides, I get the feeling that I could have ticked off a long list of similar scenarios and I would have gotten the ditto answer: “The league office does not decide who plays,” Courtemanche reiterated. “Those decisions about who plays are made by the clubs’ technical staffs.”
Not long after that story came out Wednesday, national TV cameras saw a pouting Shea subbed out in Dallas’ loss to San Jose. He had what looked like a brief, terse sideline exchange with Hyndman. Here’s what FCD veteran midfielder Daniel Hernandez told ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle afterward:
Nobody likes to come out of a game. I don’t like to come out of a game. I’m pissed off when I come out of a game, or when I don’t play. But when things are not going well for you, or you’re not having a good game, and coach needs to make a change, you have to respect it. At this point in the season, we can’t have those breakdowns right now, because we need everybody. We need him. He’s one of the stars of our team, and we need him to step up with his leadership and his play. He’s obviously one of the best players in the country. In order for us to try to fight to get into the playoffs, we’re going to need him and everyone else, 100 percent.”
She wasn’t made available for comment (for which the team will probably be fined.) Hyndman declined to comment on his young star other than to say, “I think he is in enough hot water already.”
Sounds like Shea is in for a “talking-to.” From Hyndman and probably from team leaders, too.
So, yes, this is a bad time for Brek Shea. He’s young. He’ll bounce back.
But if we could offer a wee bit of advice: just keep your head down for a while, kid. Because those doggone rolls of old pennies can leave a mark!