PHOENIX – Brek Shea isn’t blind to the chatter about his supposedly becoming a breakout star for the US national team. But the 21-year-old is also keenly aware that hype is nothing if you don’t back it up.
To that end, he’s looking at one of his fellow national-teamers as his ultimate role model.
"Look at Clint Dempsey – he just scored a hat trick [last weekend],” Shea told reporters after a recent USMNT training session at the Reach 11 complex in northern Phoenix. "I don't think he lets the hype get to him. I think he's a big role model to everyone on the national team and the US. He just stays humble and plays for his family and the country. Learning from him is a big help."
Seeing his fellow Texan put his head down, go to work and continue to have one of the best seasons of not only his career, but for an American in Europe, is the perfect example for Shea to emulate.
The FC Dallas star knows it's not going to happen for him overnight. Dempsey, now in his fifth season with Fulham, didn't become a player opposing teams focus on until his fourth year in the English Premier League.
Shea also knows he wasn't always the Next Big Thing, gracing magazine pages, being a legitimate MLS MVP candidate in 2011 for FC Dallas, starting for the US national team and becoming fodder for European transfer rumors. It took time and hard work.
"[Last season], I was just getting more comfortable," he said. "I had a couple of caps under me, a couple of international games and a couple of years in the league. I'm getting used to the speed of the game. And when you get more comfortable, I think you can play to your abilities."
But Shea also knows he has to outdo everything he has accomplished in his young career in order to keep progressing.
"I just want to build upon what I did last year," he said. "So hopefully, this time next year, they're talking about another really good year. So I'm just hoping to build every year and get better and learn from these camps, and when I get into camps with guys who are playing in Europe.”
And when it comes to emulating Dempsey, it sounds like Shea has the right idea in following in his footsteps.
"I just want to continuously be a threat all game instead of just creating a couple of chances," he said. "I know in the international level, you can only get a couple of chances, but I want to be a big threat all game and someone other teams look out for."