After failed odyssey abroad, Brek Shea returns to MLS with Orlando City

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Surely when Brek Shea left for England in 2013, he envisioned that one day he could play on the same team as Kaka. At that time, the Brazil attacker was manning the middle for Real Madrid, not the marquee signing of a team in Shea’s home country.

My, how things change.

In truth, Shea’s downslide began before he signed with Stoke City. His game dropped off during a tumultuous final season at FC Dallas, and his move to Stoke actually felt more like a fresh start than the next step.

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And his best times on the pitch likely came in on-and-off appearances with the United States men’s national team. Shea has remarkably not scored a single goal for his club since leaving MLS, but that’s mostly because he hasn’t played.

Shea played five times total for the Potters, picking up 8 and 6 appearances on loan to Barnsley and Birmingham City before signing with Orlando City SC on Friday.

Again, it’s a new start for Shea. But it’s one he simply must make the most of, and fast. There is no question Shea can succeed in a number of leagues, and he’s just 24 years old. There is time to reclaim his promising stature with the USMNT, what with his blazing speed and flair for creativity.

Orlando City founder and president Phil Rawlins describes Shea as a big addition to the squad:

“Brek is one of the key ‘finishing touches’ to a high-quality, competitive squad that Paul McDonough and Adrian Heath have assembled over the past several weeks and months,” said Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “His pedigree, success in MLS and on the international stage pair well with the experience, youth and talent already present here in Orlando. We can’t wait for preseason training to start so the Lions can take to the pitch and prepare for our much-anticipated debut.”

And he’s right. Shea can be a dynamite force in Major League Soccer. He’s a former finalist for the league’s player of the year award. But we’ve now seen three English teams decide he wasn’t in their permanent plans, which means Shea badly needs to prove himself again. He wouldn’t be the first Yank to return to the States and thrive, and here’s hoping he finds his stride while wearing purple.