FRISCO, Texas — During a sunny evening against the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 23, FC Dallas watched the man who accounted for 51 percent of their 2010 offense fall to the ground with a broken ankle.
Ferreira’s eight goals and 13 assists earned him MVP honors that season, and head coach Schellas Hyndman knew life would be difficult without their offensive mastermind.
Players were told to give an additional 30 percent on the field to make up for Ferreira’s absence. Now, 21 games after that gloomy day in Canada, winger Brek Shea’s contribution has more than covered his on-field obligations.
“I didn’t really think it upon myself,” Shea recently told MLSsoccer.com about his 10 goals and three assists while Ferreira sits on the sidelines. “I just happened to have a lot of chances and a lot of goals.”
And according to statistics provided by Opta, Shea has indeed had opportunities.
During their five games together before Ferreira’s injury, Shea averaged a shot on goal every 138 minutes. But without Ferreira to catapult the offense into the final third, the 21-year-old Texan has provided cover from the left flank, firing off a shot every 35 minutes for an average of 2.5 shots per match.
“Schellas has been telling me since the beginning that when I have the shot to take the shot,” Shea said. “Before, I’d have chances to shoot and I’d lay it off and now if I need to lay it off, I lay it off. But at the same time if you have a chance to shoot and you have a good shot, shoot.”
When Ferreira was on the field this season, Shea had only two shots on target. With Ferreira out, Shea has launched 18 shots on goal in 21 games for an 86 percent increase in on-target shots.
The numbers are not a knock to Ferreira, but rather an accolade for the young Shea, who also possesses a wicked passing vision similar to FC Dallas’ No. 10.
“Without David, I guess the responsibility has fallen on me to do more, so I guess I see the ball more,” Shea said.
Hyndman coached Shea on the Generation adidas team that took an offseason trip to Europe and said that the experience strengthened their relationship. But it also gave him plenty of time to observe his player in action.
“I think he’s developing confidence in himself,” Hyndman said, "and I think he also was one of the players that took the responsibility to say that I need to step up if David’s not here.”
A season removed from tallying six assists, Shea had one assist entering Saturday’s game against Sporting Kansas City. His lethal left foot was on full display against Sporting with four minutes remaining when he split their defense with two precise crosses for the game-tying and game-winning goals.
“I don’t get a lot of credit for that,” Shea said, laughing. “I’m not saying I’m really good at it, I’m just saying that I can do that at times. I can make some nice passes.”
Those “nice passes” have resulted in 27 scoring chances for his teammates this season as Shea drives low balls to the front post and angles crosses to the back post for the late streaking run.
“I don’t think it has a lot to do with David being injured,” Shea said. “I think it just has to do with playing more and the team stepping up.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner