Brek Shea knows US national team call up hinges on Orlando City SC success

Brek Shea - Orlando City SC - Looks upfield dribbling

ORLANDO, Fla.—Brek Shea knows he has been marginalized as an option with the US national team in the last 12 months and understands the reasons behind it. He also believes it won't take much to put him back in the conversation, though he hasn’t played for the Stars and Stripes since June 2015.

That process starts this season, by proving himself with Orlando City SC and becoming a full-time starter under head coach Jason Kreis. Shea aims to play a full slate of games for the first time since 2011, with FC Dallas.

“Every year as a player is a new year and another chance to prove yourself, so both me and the team are ready to do that,” Shea said.

There was progress last season. He did manage 22 starts in 27 appearances for the Lions in 2016, but still had several bouts with injury and finished the season on the sidelines again, this time with a foot problem. Staying fit has become his main priority.

“I ended last year with a little injury so I stayed here [in Orlando], did my rehab and worked out with a bunch of the guys,” Shea said. “I think it will help the team as a whole. We didn’t spend much time messing around but spent a lot of time getting better and preparing for this year. I feel better now than I have in a really long time going in to a season, so I am ready and excited.

“[Coach Kreis] had a strict fitness plan for the off season, wanting the guys to come in fit so we don’t have to work on fitness for the first two weeks, we can start playing straight away, and the team did that.”

Shea, who turns 27 next month, insists any national team ambitions are second to getting Orlando into the postseason for the first time in three MLS seasons. Fortunately for the Texas native, he is likely to do that from a more forward role, with the experiment of him playing left back officially over.

“[Coach] has told me he wants me in an attacking role, so that gives me something to focus on instead of worrying about different positions,” Shea said. “That’s the position I’ve played for most of my career, it’s what I like to do, so I’m excited about that.”

US national team coach Bruce Arena said earlier this month that Shea had “just missed out” on the Yanks’ training camp earlier this month. The 26-year-old took the comments as a positive.

“Obviously, that is cool to hear,” Shea said. “But I am focused on the club, getting myself ready for the season, and then playing well. Whenever a player does that, they get a chance to prove themselves at national level, so hopefully I can do this first and worry about that later.

“I’ve never played for him but I’ve talked to him many times and I think he’s a great guy and a great coach for the program. I don’t know his day-to-day coaching style – but I hope to, so we’ll see.”