SAN ANTONIO – In his travels across the world playing the beautiful game, Brek Shea has taken the field in many hostile environments.
Usually, it has been as the visitor in storied venues of England or in front of the passionate crowds in MLS, first with FC Dallas and nowadays with Orlando City SC. But on Wednesday, it'll be taken to a whole other level when he will once again be a player in the fierce international rivalry between Mexico and the US at the Alamodome (8:30 pm ET; Fox Sports 1, UniMas).
The game is sold out, and it remains to be seen if the crowd will be louder for the Yanks or El Tri. As far as Shea is concerned, it won’t matter.
“It doesn’t matter to me if there are more people booing me than cheering for me,” Shea said. “It just makes me want to play harder to win.”
Shea, a native of College Station, Texas – about a three-hour drive from San Antonio – will not be facing Mexico for the first time. His most notable moment in the series came in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's first game at the helm back in August 2011 in Philadelphia, when Shea came on as a sub and earned his first international assist on a Robbie Rogers equalizer.
And just like in that game, a number of Shea’s teammates in the game will be Mexican-American dual nationals, lining up against the country of either their or their parents' births. It is another wrinkle to the game, but to Shea it is a good thing.
“We are a very diverse team in this country,” Shea said of the men who chose to wear the red, white and blue over the green and white. “I think, if anything, it gives us an edge.”
That edge could be important for the Americans as they take on Mexico in a city known for its international flavor, not far from the border between the two countries. As a Texan, Shea knows about San Antonio, but he also knows how important the US-Mexico rivalry is on the pitch.
“It is [always] a big game for us to be playing against Mexico,” Shea said.
And not only is it a chance to shine in a high-intesnity situation, it's a prelude to a potentially bigger game should the two nations meet in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.