FRISCO, Texas — Perhaps his own harshest critic, Brek Shea admits he should have finished at least one of the chances he received from teammate Milton Rodríguez in Saturday's scoreless tie at Columbus.
“I got in behind a few times and had a couple of shots," Shea said on Monday following practice. "I feel like I should have come away with at least one goal. To be honest, I’m kind of disappointed with that.”
In the 16th minute, Rodríguez fed Shea with a well-placed through-ball. The FCD midfielder took his first touch with his left foot, but instead of bringing the ball toward the goal, he went out wide and shot into the left side of the netting [WATCH].
He got another chance in the 35th minute, again after collecting a serve from Rodríguez. This time, Shea touched the ball to the right of the Crew’s Danny O'Rourke, who was placed directly in front of him. With Chad Marshall coming in from the right, Shea fired off his shot, again putting it to the left of the Columbus goal [WATCH].
Shea discussed each one of those chances in detail and what he could have done better.
“The one I cut in [in the 35th minute], I thought it was a pretty good touch to throw the guy off," Shea said. "Chad Marshall did a good job of rushing me, so I had to rush my shot.
"The first one, I was just so focused on getting to the ball because I didn’t have much space, I went wide instead of going towards goal.”
While Shea’s first touch hasn’t been much of an issue this year, FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman admits it’s part of the young midfielder’s game he’d like to see him continue working on.
“A lot of times, players work on the things they’re good at," Hyndman said. "I don’t think it’s any different in our soccer players. As Brek does individual training, what we need to do is mention to him to go at full speed. That’s when his first touch lets him down — when he’s running hard and running fast.
"You’ve got to train like you you’re playing the game, what we call environmental training, and then you have to work on your weaknesses.”
After practice on Monday, Shea was doing exactly that with fellow midfielder Eric Avila and assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi.
"Marco stays after [practice] three times a week to do drills to help me work on getting behind, finishing left and right and my first touch,” Shea said.
Shea currently has five goals and four assists this year in 19 games. Three of those tallies have been game-winners for FCD.
After a spell earlier this year when he was benched after some poor performances in practice, he has rebounded well. Since starting the season opener on March 27 against Houston, he has clearly become a more confident player, and that has shown in a greatly improved first touch.
“Every time, I feel like my first touch is better,” Shea said. "It comes when you play with composure and have that confidence to take that first touch under pressure when people are around."