ORLANDO – Brek Shea marked his return to the US national team this time last year with the opening goal in a 3-2 friendly loss to Chile in Rancagua. He followed that with a stunning free-kick strike against Switzerland a couple of months later.
The two goals doubled his career total for Jurgen Klinsmann’s team and seemed to herald a second coming of the tall ex-FC Dallas winger, who was making a return to the States with Orlando City SC after trying his luck in the Premier League.
His new home promised much more, though, and the early months of 2015 seemed to highlight that potential.
At the age of 24, he still had the bulk of his career ahead of him and a new role at left back seemed tailor-made to get the best out of him.
This week, however, Shea will have only a passing interest in the next two US national team games, against Iceland and Canada, after what ultimately proved to be a 2015 season marked by setbacks.
Shea’s main concern now is getting fit for the new season with the Lions.
“If I can get my body right, everything else goes from there,” he said. “I didn’t touch a ball once after last season finished. Not because I didn’t want to but because kicking a ball made my groin sore.”
Shea underwent surgery for a sports hernia last July, the culmination of a nagging injury that severely limited him through June and finally ended with the team shutting him down. He did return for the final three games of the season, but insists he has only just started to feel his best.
He is not part of Klinsmann’s current squad.
“I spent a lot of the offseason strengthening the groin, and I wasn’t really fit enough to take part in a month-long training camp,” he explained. “I am hoping that rest will do the job. I have been working for a month and a half now, every day working one-on-one, working on the core areas, things you don’t normally work on. I think the break was good.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago the season ended, but it was a good enough break and everyone got refreshed.”
Narrowing his focus to what is required in the next few weeks, rather than the months ahead, means he has yet to find out what the team plans for him in 2016. He started as Orlando’s first-choice left-back but then shifted to midfield in the wake of Kevin Molino’s season-ending injury.
- Get more City news at OrlandoCitySC.com
Now, he has a wait-and-see attitude that precludes thinking too far ahead.
“I really want to see what Adrian wants [for this season] and then go from there,” he said. “I want to get my head around it and then it will be fine. Last season, I was more worried about shutting it down. I kind of reached back.”
Shea is happy for the US team situation to sort itself out in the meantime. He was a regular through the first half of last year and is most likely to stick at left back, for both club and country. City boss Adrian Heath indicated he wants to see Shea cement a place in defense, which will ensure he stays firmly on Klinsmann’s radar.
“Now, I feel 100 percent better,” Shea said. “The last few weeks have been awesome, and I will be ready to start once the games start.”