UNDOUBTEDLY one of the United States’ hottest young properties Brek Shea has risen to prominence over the past two years with a string of impressive performances for both FC Dallas in the MLS and his country on the international stage.
Dubbed by many as the best young attacking player to burst onto the American scene over the past decade, the 22-year-old winger arrived at the Britannia Stadium eager to showcase his talents on the greatest stage of all, the Barclays Premier League.
Born in Brazos County, Texas, Brek remains one of only a handful of players to have been drafted into professional football without any major college experience, however, that hasn’t hampered his development in the game.
In fact, his progression through the hugely successful Adidas Generation Program, a joint-venture between the MLS and US Soccer, has been pivotal to his astronomical rise up the footballing pyramid.
The likes of Tottenham Hotspur’s Clint Dempsey, LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and Everton Stopper Tim Howard, whom have all enjoyed glittering playing career, have all graduated through the programme.
Having been capped at all youth levels for the United States, Brek made his international debut in October 2010, playing the first-half of a friendly against Colombia that finished 0-0 in Chester, Pennsylvania.
In doing so, Brek, who is also a talented painter, became the first American player born in the 1990s to represent his country, and since then, he has gone on to win a further 14 international caps.
His importance to the national team is clearly displayed by the fact that he was one of only three players to feature in manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s first seven games in charge, along with Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard and former Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra.
A one-club player prior to his move to the Britannia Stadium, Brek initially started out as a central defender, however, he soon managed to find his feet in a more attacking role, with his most prolific campaign coming in 2011.
He scored 11 goals from 31 League starts out wide, and was named in both the MLS All-Star team and the MLS Best XI, alerting the likes of Arsenal, Everton and Bayern Munich – all of whom showed interest in his services.
Following a three-week ‘career experience’ trial with Arsene Wenger’s side in London, Brek returned to the States ahead of the 2012 season, however, his progression was disrupted after requiring surgery on a problematic foot injury.
That said, Brek was still able to turn out on 21 occasions for Dallas throughout that campaign. In total, he has played 98 times for the ‘Hoops’, scoring an impressive 19 goals and providing a further 14 assists.