After just one game, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman finds himself in a bit of a quandary at center back.
Kyle Davies, who started the season opener against Houston, suffered a broken right arm and will miss the next eight to 10 weeks. Ugo Ihemelu is still hampered by a hamstring injury suffered the week before the opener. He did not participate in Monday’s practice.
However, Hyndman might have an experimental solution: Brek Shea.
The 20-year-old played the full 90 at center back in a scrimmage last Wednesday against the Austin Aztex and performed well. During his two-plus years with FCD, he has primarily lined up as a forward or midfielder, but Hyndman thinks the 6-foot-3 Texan’s physical gifts could be better employed at the back.
“He’s a player that sees the game in front of him,” Hyndman said. “It’s a little bit easier when you’ve got the game in front of you than when it’s around you. He’s able to make quicker decisions or see the game because he does have a pretty good understanding of the game. He’s strong in the air and is a great distributor of the ball. He can deliver great diagonal balls. He’s a good passer. All the things that were his strengths on the flank, he does those as a defender.”
In 2008, Shea was the second overall pick in the MLS Super Draft. He was in Hyndman’s first 11 at left midfield against the Dynamo, but agrees with his coach that center back might be a better fit.
“I like that everything is in front of me and mostly, I don’t have to worry about what’s behind me,” Shea said. “With my size and speed, it’s an advantage for me on balls over the top against most people. I think I can do well there if I just work on the little things.”
Dallas play Saturday against Columbus, and Shea could end up starting at center back should Ihemelu again be unavailable. He won’t be as polished or experienced as Ihemelu, but Hyndman sees great potential in a positional switch for Shea.
“I think it’s going to be a work in progress,” Hyndman said. “But I think he could find his best position in this league playing there. And maybe internationally if he can perform.”