Orlando City signs Brek Shea, adding American flavor to roster


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Brek Shea (middle) was nominated for the MLS MVP award in 2011and manager Adrian Heath (left) hopes to get him back into form with Orlando City.

U.S. Men’s National Team player Brek Shea was announced as Orlando City SC’s newest signing on Friday during an introductory press conference at SNAP! Orlando.

Orlando City manager Adrian Heath had been eyeing Shea since the time the franchise was known as the Austin Aztex. Heath would go out to FC Dallas games and watch the young USMNT prospect every chance he got and even wrote him a letter of recommendation when he was making to move to Stoke City.

Shea spent three weeks training with Orlando City earlier in the year, even going out to a game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This is something he says helped influence his decision to sign with Orlando City and return to the MLS, where he almost won the league’s MVP in 2011, when he had 11 goals in 31 games.

“I think it just helped that I was able to see how the city was and the team, the staff and everything that was going on and the buzz,” said Shea about his training stint earlier in the year with Orlando. “So I think it definitely helped.

“This felt like the right place, and I think it is and it will be for a long time.”

Now Shea hopes he’s found a home in Orlando, while his coach looks to get him back into his 2011 form and hopefully get him a U.S. National team call up from Jurgen Klinsmann.

“I don’t see any reason that in the next few years with us he can’t force his way back into that National team picture,” said Heath of the former USMNT forward. “We think there’s a lot more to come from him.”

Shea joins Orlando City after a three-year stint at Stoke City which saw the American go goalless in five appearances. The 24-year-old hasn’t scored a goal in a regular season club game since 2012, when he scored three times for FC Dallas, before making to move to England.

Heath said that Shea is a very versatile player and can play anywhere on the left side, including left back.

Injuries plagued Shea since his final season in Dallas, when he went down with a right foot injury. A knee injury then kept Shea out for the beginning of the 2013-14 season, once healthy he was loaned out to Championship side Barnsley where he played eight games before being sent back to Stoke. Most recently he was on loan at Birmingham City where he played his final six game before returning to the MLS.

“It’s a learning experience,” said Shea of his time in England. “I enjoyed it, obviously it was the best time in my life and I’ve just got to move forward now and use that experience.”

The signing of Shea gives Orlando City a big American name to go alongside International star Kaka and with Shea’s USMNT experience alone soccer fans are sure to recognize the name.

“Brek’s a very, very exciting talent, you’ve only got to go back a couple of years and look at how he led the league, he was in line to be the MVP of the league, he was scoring goals in front on a regular bases for Dallas,” said Orlando City president Phil Rawlins of the club’s newest signing. “I expect working with a coach that’s as good as Adrian we’re going to get him back at that level again. I think he’s a great U.S. star to have on our team.

“I just can’t wait to see him playing in purple and more importantly that Red, White and Blue of the United States men’s team as well, I’m sure that’s where his future holds.”

Along with the announcement of Shea’s signing Orlando City had another piece of big news come out on Friday, as the MLS released their opening day schedule which features a March 8 matchup between New York City FC in the Orlando CItrus Bowl to start off the Lions inaugural season in the league.

Orlando City president Phil Rawlins has set out to “Fill The Bowl,” meaning that the club will aim not just to sell out the lower bowl for the home opener, but rather the entire Citrus Bowl which seats 65,000.