Special thanks to walknboston for the image via Flickr.
Stoke City have landed rising US international Brek Shea for £2.5 million from FC Dallas and the MLS.
A deal that was the struggle as the MLS has the ultimate final say on who can stay or go from its’ league.
While not having the history or following of other leagues, the MLS has put certain restrictions on the league and players are essentially on one team. That team is the MLS. Clubs participating in Major League Soccer can’t simply decide to ship out their stars on a whim, because the MLS wants to establish and maintain a certain image.
The organization wants to retain its’ stars and not be seen as a feeder league for the large leagues in the world. But, in regards to player wants and development, this occasionally has to be the case.
Such a case is applied to Shea. As he heads to a Stoke City club who have already employed then fringe US national player Geoff Cameron from the Houston Dynamo of the MLS earlier this season. Cameron has been a solid player for the club featuring in 21 of the team’s 24 matches, good enough for fourth best amongst outfield players, and is now a mainstay in the United States line-up when they elect to play their top squad.
The twenty-two year-old ’s transition should be eased with Cameron being on the squad (along with US international Maurice Edu who is currently on loan at Bursaspor). Also, going to an English side will help since he doesn’t have to adjust to a new language and that US players have had success in the league as of recent years. Besides Cameron, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden have been vital players for their sides in recent years.
Shea also fits right in physically with this Stoke side, a side whose projected line-up often features more than 50% of its’ players at 6’3 or over and no one shorter than 5’10. Stoke have been well known to be one of the most physical teams in the league and play a distinctly old-school English style. Shea will fit in with this mentality as he spent a small portion of his time at FC Dallas playing as centre-half. Shea’s physical stature (6’3 190 lbs.) meant that he was prototypical for this role and his ability on the ball and pace were thought to be the making of a special talent in defense.
But, much like Gareth Bale it was quickly decided that Shea was best utilized when taking those weapons and using them in the attack as opposed to defense.
Shea was originally drafted in the MLS SuperDraft 2nd overall as a left winger, and has returned to his natural position as a primarily left-footed player and will likely be used there for Stoke.
But, Shea isn’t your typical winger. In addition to being much larger than most employed in wide positions, Shea is a willing defender who puts in as steady of a shift on defense as he does in the attack, something that is required in the Stoke side.
And while Shea seems to be the perfect fit for an evolving Stoke side who want to play their physical, hard-working, disruptive style of play, but have more skill and creativity when on the ball, there are some weaknesses to his game.
Shea has shown to have some maturity issues, as he gets frustrated and they can affect his performance. As it often is the case with youngsters, inconsistency can take hold.
The Potters may have just snatched up a steal of a player who combines well up the flank, possesses above average pace, creativity and size and has a mentality that fits the persona of the club he’s heading towards.
Shea has been granted a work permit, so concerns about a delayed arrival have been quelled as he’ll be arriving well before other January signee Jack Butland who will remain on loan at Birmingham City for the rest of the season as Stoke, who is currently tenth in the EPL standings, looks to build a promising future.