Before we get into the subject matter at which the headline of this post hints, allow us a caveat: We think Brek Shea has more potential than almost any other player in the U.S. player pool, and if he can ever pull himself together, he’ll be a very important player for the U.S. National Team. That said, there’s every indication that he’s begun to embrace self-sabotage mode over the last year or so. To wit, Four Reasons Why Brek Shea Won’t Be In Brazil:
4. Lacking Any Semblence of Self-Control
To be clear, we don’t agree with the knee-jerk reaction to this picture. Some have objected to the fact that Shea has two very large guns in that picture, and that he’s holding them in what might be considered a… reckless fashion. Others might find fault with the political symbolism in which the picture is drenched. The real issue, to our minds, is the tone deaf fact that he published, via the internets for the entire world to see, what can only be called a “controversial picture.” It’s easy to forget that for players like Shea, soccer is an occupation. And, as is the case for any occupation, it isn’t always wise to publicize every detail of your life to current and future employers. (Prospective employers check your Facebook page, you guys.) What we’re trying to say is this: Guns and ‘Murica aren’t necessarily well-received in Europe, where Shea is trying to ply his trade. He maybe should have thought that one through a bit more. It certainly isn’t going to help him. Oh, and in the general category of “lacking self-control,” there’s also this.
3. Pig Head
We may have been able to just make this one a corollary to #4, except for the fact that it seemed to have taken on a life of its own. You can read more about the incident here, and we should say that wasn’t clear how significant a role Shea played in the affair. All we know is that one car got covered in flour and eggs, another became Kenwyne Jones’ punching bag, and two unnamed Stoke players were investigated. And at the center of the hubbub was Brek Shea, in the picture above, holding the business end of a real, honest-to-goodness decapitated pig. Again, with the publicizing of stupid pictures. The wiser choice, it would seem, would have been to refrain from broadcasting his employer’s internal strife to everyone on Twitter.
2. A Tendency to Play Fast and Loose with Certain Digits
This one is the most recent of Shea’s spate of poor decisions. To be clear, the picture above is from, shall we say, an earlier recording of the same track. What that means, though, is that there might be a pattern here. One does not simply make rude gestures to the very people who make your occupation possible. It’s worth noting, in his defense, that in the most recent iteration, he allegedly flicked off opposing fans who had been abusing a teammate of Shea’s. So give him some credit, maybe. But what did it get him? A one-way ticket back away from Barnsley, that’s what. He had been getting significant minutes for the Tykes, but now he will presumably return to irrelevancy at Stoke City. Which is the opposite of what someone fighting for a spot on the U.S. World Cup roster needs.
1. Actual Soccer Thing: He’s Simply Not Consistent on the Pitch
Watch the video above. Or don’t, because what you will not see in that video is Brek Shea. That’s because it’s a highlight video, from the U.S. Gold Cup match last summer against Cuba. Shea played in that game, for the first half, and managed to turn the ball over an astounding 14 times while on the field. If you watched the game, you will recall one of the poorest performances by a United States player in recent memory. It was uncanny. Needless to say, he did not make the highlight video.
And that, in terms of his ability as a soccer player, is what makes him such an enigma. In the very same tournament as the Cuba match, he played in games where he looked to be unstoppable. And he played in other games where he looked simply pedestrian. And that is Brek Shea, as it currently stands. He’s either one of the fastest, strongest, and most individually creative players in America right now, or he plays so poorly that someone like Marvell Wynne appears more deserving of a spot on the squad. We love Brek Shea and hope he can work all of this out; but until then, we will remain confused.