In the second half of Sunday evening’s 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman made an aggressive move in hopes of getting his squad back into the game.
Trailing 3-0, Jair Benitez entered the game at left back, pushing Brek Shea up the line as a left-sided midfielder. The modification paid dividends as the game neared stoppage time.
In the 83rd minute, Shea slotted a through ball to a stretched-out David Ferreira, who redirected the ball to the back of the net for FC Dallas' first score. Three minutes later, Shea and Ferreira connected again, this time with the blonde 21-year-old one-timing a Ferreira cross past helpless Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
“I made a diagonal run and David saw me and played it over the top, and I kind of glanced and saw the goalie coming out so I tried to get to it before he did,” said Shea after the team’s regeneration session on Monday in Portland.
Although FC Dallas couldn’t find the equalizer, Hyndman spoke about Shea's success as a midfielder in Dallas’ lineup.
“When he got to the left side of midfield, he was making dangerous runs, he was a handful, he scored a nice goal, and he also served a few balls in there,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “We’ve trained Brek for two years to play aggressive flank play and that [performance] was a great tribute to Brek for how focused he was.”
Thus far in 2011, Shea has been nomadic on the field. He started the season as a center back, but after a red card in the season opener and a one-game suspension, he moved to left back to accommodate Ugo Ihemelu’s return.
In four games, played Shea has logged 325 total minutes – 154 at left back, 145 minutes at center back and 26 minutes at left midfield. But for the tall, speedy US national-teamer, it buckles down to one thing: his mentality.
“I just like to play, to be honest,” said Shea. “It’s all about your mentality going into the game. You just want to play and it doesn’t really matter [where you play].”
Throughout the first five games as a defender, Shea has demonstrated the ability to pass the ball through the midfield as opposed to knocking the long ball forward. He also has managed to dribble up the field and make penetrating passes, thus taking some pressure off the midfielders.
But as a midfielder for 26 minutes on Sunday evening in Portland, Shea ran at defenders and brought a near-defunct Dallas' offense to life.
“I think when that happened, the game really opened up, so I had more space and we started playing a lot more wide play," Shea said. "That’s when we started to get chances."
Whether or not Hyndman makes more adjustments to the lineup come Saturday in Vancouver is anyone’s guess, but after a goal and assist against the Timbers, it seems a good bet that Shea will be out there somewhere.