There might not be an FC Dallas player with a bigger spotlight on him right now than right midfielder Brek Shea. The 21-year-old College Station native has seen his star rise with the US national team this year and also leads FCD with 11 goals, a total that has earned him consideration for 2011 MLS MVP honors.
But all those accolades and hype will mean little at around 8 p.m. Wednesday as Shea and his Dallas teammates will look to beat the New York Red Bulls in an MLS Wild Card playoff match at Pizza Hut Park.
In the 2010 playoffs, the talented young midfielder had two assists in four games, three of which were starts. And just talking to him, it’s clear he’s ready to add to his playoff point total.
“I’m ready to go,” Shea said after a short training session on the stadium field on Tuesday morning. “I can’t wait to play tomorrow. I think it’s going to be a good game. They’re a good team. They haven’t always shown it but they definitely have probably the most talented team in the league and it’s going to be hard game. But our team is definitely excited for it.”
Shea was among seven starters who didn’t travel to San Jose for FCD’s regular-season finale on Saturday night, a game Dallas lost, 4-2. That break allowed him to return home to spend some quality time with his family.
“I got to go home and hang out with my family. It definitely was a good time and good for me mentally too,” he said.
The break also gave him the opportunity to put last Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Toronto FC, a defeat which ended FCD’s promising run in the CONCACAF Champions League, completely in his rearview mirror.
“Yeah, that one’s not easy to put behind us but it helps. You’ve got to move on,” Shea said. “You can’t always look back. You have to look forward at what we can change. We can’t change that result. What we have in our hands is this game. Hopefully we can do what we want to do.”
He did have a goal in an FCD win over Vancouver on Oct. 15, ending a six-game scoring draught in league play. And Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman hopes that tally signifies that his top offensive player is back in the top form he displayed earlier in the season, before the weight of so many extra games caught up with him and his teammates.
“I hope so. We’ve talked a couple of times. He’s very well prepared to get back into form and be a difference maker,” Hyndman said.
However, it’s not like this is the first time in the postseason for he and his teammates. Except for two or three new starters, the core of last year’s team that lost in MLS Cup 2010 is back for more this time around.
And such continuity means this native Texan knows exactly what to expect in MLS’ “second season”.
“I and the team want to take each game at a time. We’re not focused on the next one,” Shea said. “We’re focused on tomorrow night, getting a win and then we’ll take the next game. We’re going to do it exactly the same as last year except for the final. The team’s fine with that.”
One big reason why the 2010 FCD team finished the year in the league final was because of how strong that group’s chemistry was. Not only did they enjoy the ride but they also had fun along the way, something this up-and-coming midfielder wants to see repeat itself in 2011.
“It was awesome,” Shea said. “Winning and getting to the final, it was fun as a team. We saw some clips from last year and it definitely got the guys excited. It brought that feeling back that we had last year. Hopefully we can bring that feeling back.”