Brek Shea has all the makings of a fantastic Premier League forward, and could well become an extremely valuable player for the United States National Team. With an impressive 6’3” frame and great speed, the 22 year old could fit in well with both the physical and high-speed nature of English soccer. After completing a weeklong trial at Stoke City, the player is set to return to FC Dallas without a move following a failure of a deal being arranged with the MLS. Apparently, Stoke manager Tony Pulis offered just $3 million and the MLS refused the deal.
The idea of Shea moving to the Premier League is rather surprising at this time. Although the player has made waves and received several national team call-ups, he had a rough MLS season and required surgery in November. Just coming back into playing, perhaps a move to Stoke City, which demands heavy physicality isn’t the best move for the player. Another season with Dallas could perhaps re-invigorate his career and help the MLS claim a higher transfer fee for the player.
When one considers that Brek Shea has a similar style and game to someone like Marouane Fellaini, one could make the argument that Shea is worth far more than $3 million, but this situation also exposes a general trend of the MLS holding American players back from successful European careers.
The debate is a challenging one to find a good answer for. American soccer is seemingly caught in two minds. One group wants to expand the MLS to become one of the best leagues in the world and celebrates the inclusion of stars like Thierry Henry, David Beckham, and Robbie Keane to American teams. These people are the ones that wish for the best American players to stay at MLS clubs so that soccer continues to develop on home soil.
Such situations have enfolded where players like Landon Donovan have been greatly withheld from moving abroad to European clubs. He has experienced loan moves to Bayern Munich and Everton, but was never allowed to secure a full transfer. His spells at Everton were very successful and led to him being named the Everton Player of the Month at one point, but the MLS and LA Galaxy restricted a permanent transfer.
The worry here is that I feel that Donovan’s career was held back. The MLS is no comparison to the talent level in England, and as such one could argue that the American National Team suffered because one of their best players was limited in his growth.
A similar thing could happen to Brek Shea. He is clearly a top prospect in the MLS and could become a focal point of the USA attack in the next five years. There is no doubt in my mind that he would benefit greatly by moving to a team like Stoke City in advancing his development and career. The USA National Team would benefit as well. This is the argument of the other view, that moving America’s best players abroad will help the National Team find more success as players play in more competitive leagues.
So where does the current situation reside? It seems as though Shea will at least spend this year in the MLS with FC Dallas, but if he performs well I would love to see him secure a move to Europe. I think the success of the National Team is more important than the MLS and having our players succeed abroad is instrumental for America competing on the global scale. Let’s just hope that the MLS can sort out a move with Shea for a more reasonable fee this summer.