Shea says U-23 call-up "a special thing"

FRISCO, Texas – When FC Dallas take the field against Portland on Saturday, an essential part of their team will be missing.

Midfielder Brek Shea will be serving his country as a part of the US Olympic team, which begins its preparations for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament this week.

“I think it’s a special thing being involved with the Olympics,” Shea said. “I think it’s one of the best things you can be a part of. Hopefully, we can do well in qualifying. Anytime you represent your country, it’s an honor.”

The 2011 US Young Male Athlete of the Year has appeared in all 10 of the US full national team matches under head coach Jurgen Kinsmann. After showing what he can do at senior level, Shea joined the Olympic when they opened training camp on Tuesday.

Camp will run through March 20, and the tournament is slated to begin just two days later, which means Shea may miss multiple FC Dallas games. While the club will surely miss him, Shea says balancing duties between the two has not been a daunting task.

“No, I don’t really look at it like that,” Shea said when asked about how tough it was bouncing back and forth between the national team and FC Dallas. “I just look at it [as] wherever I am, I try my best. Just focus on one game at a time. I don’t really look too far ahead. I just try to stay focused.”

When FC Dallas defeated New York 2-1 on Sunday, Shea had the opportunity to play against national team colleague Juan Agudelo, who is practically in the same situation when it comes to balancing his MLS and Olympic duties.

The two engaged in some friendly banter throughout the match, but Shea was happy to get the best of his counterpart in the end.

“It’s always fun. We like playing against each other,” he said. “He’s a great player, and it’s fun when you play against your buddies.”