Getty Images

Shea makes quality return to starting XI

FRISCO, Texas — It had been 50 days since FC Dallas winger Brek Shea had been in head coach Schellas Hyndman’s starting XI. But with starting right midfielder Atiba Harris suspended for the Western Conference semifinal second-leg encounter against Real Salt Lake last Saturday, Shea finally got his start, and made the most of a rare opportunity.

The 20-year-old assisted on the lone FCD goal of the night, chesting down a David Ferreira cross to the onrushing Dax McCarty, who promptly deposited what turned out to the series-clinching goal as Dallas advanced in the postseason for the first time since 1999.


Get Microsoft Silverlight

Shea will likely start the Western Conference Championship, too, as FCD face the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Sunday (8 pm CT, ESPN2). But things weren't always so rosey. Prior to the RSL match, he hadn't started since Sept. 16, when he earned a red card for a rash tackle on New York Red Bulls defender Chris Albright.

By the time he returned from the two-game suspension that resulted from that incident, the speedy Marvin Chavez had made Shea’s usual left midfield spot his own, relegating the rookie to the bench.

“So much of Brek’s play this year has really been good until he hit that bad spot - -the card, losing confidence and getting called into the national team had him disjointed a little bit,” Hyndman said. “So, when he’s been coming back on, he hasn’t been adding to the quality that he had prior.”

But Shea reemerged when midfielder Atiba Harris earned his own red card in the series opener against RSL, suspending him for the finale and forcing Chávez to the right wing. Shea stepped in at left mid, and the rest was history.

Harris’ suspension shifted Chávez to the right wing, while Shea stepped back into the left side of the midfield.

“I just tried to make myself busy and help the team out,” Shea said. “We got the result, so that’s all that matters.”

Added Hyndman, “I thought this was a good start for him. I thought he had a good performance. It’s coming to the point now where he’s getting his self confidence back and the team’s confidence back.”

Think you know the game? Test your powers of prediction with's new fantasy game, Pro Soccer Picks. Play NOW!