To say that Brek Shea has had a rough start to his days abroad is like saying the American newspaper industry is having a bit of a gloomy spell. It’s a pretty thick on understatement.
Today comes a little sprig of hope, perhaps: Shea actually got on the field for Mark Hughes’ Stoke City.
It wasn’t a Premier League match, but it was a Capital One Cup contest, one where Hughes did feature several first-choice men. (There were five changes to the starting lineup that made PL champs Manchester United work so hard for the weekend win at Old Trafford.)
The former FC Dallas man entered for Jermaine Pennant in the 76th minute. You could probably read the success of this news in one of two ways, however. See, Shea did get on the field. But as he entered Stoke held a 3-1 lead. When 90 minutes were up the lead was gone – to 10-man Birmingham, no less.
Stoke advanced in penalties, securing a spot in the tournament’s final eight. Still, Hughes was pretty unhappy about the unfolding of it all.
This is what we know about Shea as it concerns Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team: Klinsmann wasn’t happy about Shea’s move to England. This piece, which talks about a possible loan deal that might get Shea more minutes somewhere, says Klinsmann told the player this move would damage his World Cup chances.
Closer to the truth, I think, is that Shea or no one in Shea’s camp ever asked Klinsmann for his opinion before the fact. And it seems clear now that Klinsmann would have told the young player to avoid this particular move.
But we also know that Klinsmann’s team is pretty short on quality width. Landon Donovan can possibly get the job done, but he prefers an underneath-the-striker role, and it better suits his skills set these days.
Graham Zusi can do the job, but he’s always better working inside rather than truly stretching the field horizontally. Fabian Johnson can get the job done – but he may have to play in defense, depending on a bunch of other moving pieces. So you get the idea; lots of plug-in types, but no real wingers.
Bottom line, the team lacks width. If Shea can get some minutes, stay healthy and generally get his playing act together, he is likely to find a spot on the World Cup roster – if only out of team necessity.