It happened earlier than you may have expected, but it was only by a matter of minutes.
In the 24th today at Craven Cottage — a place where Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey saw so much success — former FC Dallas winger Brek Shea came on for Stoke City, replacing Matthew Etherington. When the Potters’ first choice left wing went down with a back injury, the 22-year-old Texan became the 40th American to play in the English Premier League.
It was a mixed day for Shea, with Stoke going on to lose to the Cottagers, 1-0. Twice Shea gave Fulham pause on volleys inside the box. His first earned a penalty when it found Ashkan Dejagah’s arm, though Jonathan Walters’ ensuing attempt was saved by Mark Schwarzer. His second minutes later went just wide of the post. The tries hinted at the threat Shea can provide at the far post when Stoke build play through Walters on the right.
In other faects, Shea looked like a debutant. He gave the ball away too easily, which led to his being one of the lowest passing rates on the team.
But as debuts go, it was a positive one for Shea, especially considering he’s still coming back from a foot injury. Seventy-six minutes may have been more than Tony Pulis was anticipating for his new signing’s debut, but Shea showed he can hold his own.
If Etherington can’t recover for next Saturday’s match with West Ham, Shea will get a chance to see if he can hold his own for 90 minutes.