FRISCO, Texas — After starting the year in head coach Schellas Hyndman’s doghouse, Brek Shea has come a long way over the last several months.
On Saturday night, the 20-year-old midfielder had Dallas' game-winning goal, scoring on a header in the 71st minute. That tally was his fifth of 2010. He also has four assists for his club, and FCD are 6-0-1 when Shea has either a goal or an assist this season.
His continuing growth is something that Hyndman keeps a close eye on.
“You have to also understand he’s been given a lot of opportunities, and he’s played a lot,” the FCD manager said. “We’re seeing his maturity. We’re seeing a player that’s playing with more confidence and making a difference. It’s hard to do any of that if you’re sitting on the bench. He’s getting our respect and our confidence and also his teammates’ confidence.”
Shea explained his evolution this season in simple terms.
“To be honest, each time coach puts me on the field or starts me, I get more and more comfortable playing out there,” he said after practice on Monday. “I don’t worry as much when I make a mistake. I used to be worried about it, but now I forget about it [because I know] I’ve got the next play.”
Heading into this season, Hyndman wanted solid production from both of his flank midfielders. Shea has made more than his share of contributions from the left side while Atiba Harris, who mans the opposite flank, has contributed three goals and one assist.
FCD had a big hole to fill on the left side with the offseason departure of Dave van den Bergh, who led the team with 11 assists. And with Shea’s early struggles, it looked like filling the void left by the departure of the former Dutch international might be a very tall order. But with the big Texan’s recent form, it’s clear he's continuing to grow as a starter under Hyndman.
Shea said he believes his biggest improvement so far this season has been with his composure on the ball.
“I know when to take a touch and take a second or when to play fast, run at a guy or when I need to pass it," Shea said.
Though Hyndman is mostly pleased with Shea's development, he admits there are times he has to remind himself that the midfielder is still only 20 years old and still makes some mistakes that come with youth.
“There are still those moments where you wonder how it could happen?" he said. "As I keep saying to him, we’re going to have our peaks and valleys throughout the year. We want more of the peaks.
"It seems like whenever he has a couple of bad first touches, the next touch is brilliant. I think part of that is just concentration, and I think he’ll get more and more of that [as he gains more experience].”