On a noisy evening at a packed BMO Field, where Toronto FC introduced several new faces to their fans, Brek Shea and FC Dallas were listening to something other than the crowd: the halftime speech by head coach Schellas Hyndman.
“One of the points that I brought up was: who is going to be the difference-maker?” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com via telephone after the match. “The person who is going to be the difference-maker is the person who isn’t going to be average.”
And four minutes into the second half, midfielder Brek Shea answered his coach’s question with an exclamation point.
The 21-year-old took possession from a Toronto player at midfield, played a one-two with Daniel Hernandez, and then sped down the middle of the field — nearly 50 yards in total — before sizing up and rocketing a left-footed, 30-yard blast off the post and past dumbfounded goalkeeper Stefan Frei to answer his coach's plea.
“I just poked it to Danny and we did a one-two and then I just beat a guy into space, took another touch and shot and it went off the post and in,” Shea explained.
“That was in the back of my mind,” said Shea of Hyndman’s halftime speech. “He said that and I did recognize that and I just happened to score a goal like that right after the half so it was probably in the back of my mind during it.”
Declared Hyndman, “A great goal. What a fantastic goal."
The goal momentarily tied Shea for the league lead in goals scored. Of his nine tallies, five are game-winners. With every goal, the confidence has grown and is clearly seen in his touches, shots, dribbles and passing skills.
Fans across the nation have also taken notice, voting him into the First XI for the AT&T All-Star Game, which he will miss due to CONCACAF Champions League commitments with FC Dallas.
“Every time you score, you get more confidence and then you play with more confidence and that’s how my season’s been,” Shea said. “I keep building on what I’ve been doing and it’s helped my success.”
And Shea’s success means success for FC Dallas, who returned to the scene of a crushing extra time loss to the Colorado Rapids in MLS Cup 2010.
“There were definitely some memories from the final last year during warm-ups but during the game, the team fought hard,” Shea said. “We had a lot of chances in the first half — I thought we should have scored maybe a goal or two. But once we got that goal in the second half, we kind of sat back and finished the game out.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy