Shea eyes first taste of qualifying as Jamaica match looms

Brek Shea

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FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas winger Brek Shea has been somewhat of a mainstay on Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national team rosters, but one thing the Texan has never done is play in a competitive match for the United States.

Yes, he started in the historic win in Italy in February. He got the call at the Stade de France in Paris last year, too, and he’s already played against Mexico twice since making his debut in the Klinsmann era a little more than a year ago.

But all 12 of Shea’s appearances have been in international friendlies, meaning that a potential call against Jamaica in the teams’ World Cup qualifier on Friday in Kingston (8 pm ET, beIN Sport USA) would mark a historic first in Shea’s international career.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, it’s a World Cup qualifier and that’s where you want to be,” Shea told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. “It’s my first taste, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Shea was left off Klinsmann's roster for two World Cup qualifiers earlier this summer: a win over Antigua and Barbuda and a road draw in Guatemala. But now he's back, eager to impress and looking rejuvenated at the club level after a stagnant stretch that left some wondering if he was burned out.

Shea played 86 minutes on the left wing for FC Dallas in Sunday’s draw with Seattle Sounders and has been a much more active part of the FCD offense since his well-documented two-game hiatus for publicly arguing with head coach Schellas Hyndman over playing time. In five games since returning, Shea has registered 14 shots and two assists.

More than his moments with his club, however, the lasting impression of Shea in recent weeks was the sequence in which he beat Mexico right back Severo Meza and sent in the cross that eventually was tapped home by Michael Orozco Fiscal to give the United States a historic 1-0 victory in Mexico City last month.

“The reason he’s being called in is because when he gets to the national level, he’s productive,” Hyndman told reporters on Sunday night. “The game against Mexico when he went in … and created the goal that made history for the US, I think it’s something you don’t forget.”

While the assist against Mexico is a moment that will live in US soccer lore, the fact remains that anything done by Shea in a World Cup qualifier will be exponentially more important as the US look to qualify for Brazil 2014.

“It feels good to play in a real game, hopefully, something that means something,” said Shea, who will likely be used in a substitute role. “I don’t really look at friendlies like a friendly anyways, but it would be good to get into a game that means something.”