Shea makes triumphant return to starting XI

After 50 days without start, Shea earns assist against RSL

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.

WATCH: SHEA, MCCARTY CONNECT

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 (9 pm ET, 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 MLSsoccer.com's new fantasy game, Pro Soccer Picks. Play NOW!