It's international break time again, so it seems a great time to start taking a closer look at some players who we've been finding ourselves linked to since the summer window closed. We're going to start with a personal favorite of mine, Dallas FC winger/midfielder/striker/fullback/centerback Brek Shea. For those of you unfamiliar, Shea plays for FC Dallas of MLS and for the USMNT. He's been called up to the US squad that will host Honduras on 10/8 and Ecuador on 10/11 if you'd like to get a closer look at him. His Dallas squad also has an away fixture against the Chicago Fire on 10/12 if he's released from national duty prior to the game on the 11th.
Despite trialing at Bolton at the age of 17 and being offered a contract, Shea opted to join MLS straight out of high school. As a Generation Adidas player, Shea had the opportunity to receive a comparable paycheck to what he'd likely receive in England initially and decided to stay at home while he developed. He was selected 2nd overall by Dallas and it was easy to see why they took him. He did not play much as a rookie, but when he got on the pitch you could easily see the raw talent that made scouts fall in love with the guy. Players very rarely posses the type of size he has (he stands 6'4" tall) and combine it with elite speed. That said, he was extremely raw at that point in his career
Shea was played all over the left side as he was developing, splitting time fairly equally between left back, left midfield, and the left wing. To start the 2011 season the Dallas coaching staff decided Shea's talent and size could make him an elite centerback (he was also used there on a Generation Adidas trip to Europe over the winter). When injuries struck Dallas, he was moved back into the attack with great results. He's had quite a run of form since the move, and he's probably been the best player in MLS this season. He's also been used as a second striker in his career, so positionally he's extremely versatile.
Technically Shea is really starting to develop into a nice player. While he was extremely raw early in his career, he's now developing a reputation for being able to take players on successfully. He's very good with the ball at his feet, and he's also noted as a very good crosser of the ball. Part of the reason he was moved to centerback was his solid positioning and skill in the air, and largely because of that he's a dangerous target from set pieces. He's also got a nose for finishing and finding space, and while it's a little harder to find scouting video of MLS I do have a few of his goals for you to look at. First I'll give you a nice little finish he had against Chivas USA:
Next we'll look at a nice little finish against Toronto:
Here's a nifty little goal against LA Galaxy:
And lastly my favorite of his goals this season against Sporting KC:
As far as a fit at Chelsea goes, Shea shouldn't have any issues. He seems to fit the utility left sider at the moment that we were shopping for when we were after Alvaro Pereira, and he could certainly develop into a starter for us in the future. The fact that he can probably slot in as cover for the central midfield, center of the defense, or as a striker certainly add to his appeal. He'd also be one of the few players who should have absolutely no question about how he'd adapt to the physical play in England, as MLS is probably an even more physical league than the Premier League. He'd also fit nicely with the youth movement which Chelsea has been showing us in recent windows.
Shea would make more sense as a January buy than as a summer buy. MLS is in their offseason during the winter, so moving Shea in January would allow them time to look for a replacement for him. I could see them being more motivated to listening to offers for his services this winter than they would be in June, as they'll likely be able to do a better job reshaping the roster then. I have no idea what he'd cost, as MLS hasn't really had a top young talent like Shea sold to Europe yet, but I can't imagine he'd be prohibitively expensive. Shea seems open to a move to Europe eventually as he noted in this interview.
On top of his raw physical talent, I like Shea as a marketing investment for Chelsea. The US is certainly a booming soccer market at the moment, but one thing they lack is a real face of the national team playing in Europe. They had that for a short time when Landon Donovan was loaned to Everton, but with Donovan aging the face of the national team will likely be someone else by the time the next World Cup rolls around. It's very possible that Shea could go on to fill that void, as he's certainly got the talent to do so. He's also well known for his ever changing hairstyles, so he and Luiz together could be fun.
So far I've seen Shea linked to both ourselves and Manchester United as well as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Germany. It's not hard to see what those clubs all like, as Shea certainly has both the talent and marketing potential to be a great investment. He'll be one to keep an eye on going forward, as his fantastic MLS season will likely have him moving to Europe in the very near future. Here's hoping that future ends up being to Chelsea...