Brek Shea and Manchester United: Why I hope it Doesn’t Happen


In the last week speculation has increased that FC Dallas Attacking Midfielder Brek Shea, a standout of recent US Youth National teams and the 2008 MLS Combine has drawn the interest from Alex Ferguson of Manchester United. While this sounds glamorous, Shea would be just the latest youngster plucked from American shores by United in the last several years. The previous four, Jovan Kirovski, John Thorrington, Jonathan Spector and Kenny Cooper failed to develop the skill level and technical ability while in England that they needed to be as successful on the international level as they possibly could be given their perceived talent level. Shea’s performance at the Toulon Festival last month where he and Sammy Ochoa were the American standouts has United interested in him.

Should Shea move abroad, I would personally prefer he move to Holland or Germany during his development stage. Both leagues have better history with young American players than England whose notable flops include not only the players listed above, but Zac Whitebred who signed with Liverpool after the 2005 U-20 World Cup, Jemel Johnson who now plays League Two football after signing with Blackburn as a youngster, Johann Smith of Bolton whose two plus years in England have rendered him useless for the US setup, and Frank Simek now a Championship player after signing with Arsenal as a teen and not developing to Arsene Wenger’s satisfaction.

The English Premier League could be the best league in the world, but it is simply not the best league for developing young American talent. For whatever reason the Dutch and German leagues provide a more adaptable experience for young American starlets. If Shea does move to United let’s hope he can buck this trend.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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7 Responses to Brek Shea and Manchester United: Why I hope it Doesn’t Happen

  1. Lonnie says:

    The Dutch and German leagues seems to develop very technically sound players. The same cannot always be said of the English clubs. The top English clubs have seemed to let their academys slip in standard. For example, instead of developing homegrown players like Neville, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, etc. United are simply buying from other clubs (Ronaldo, Nani, Rooney, etc)

  2. Ian says:

    Our players need to learn once and for all English teams buy FINISHED PRODUCTS, not prospects. Yes, agreed. Holland or Germany, or why not Spain or Portugal, but yes not England. Agreed.

  3. JRT says:

    Can anyone say Johann Smith or Kenny Cooper part duex?

    He needs to stay in MLS or go somewhere where he will play in a good youth setup.

    Manchester United? Big eyes but in reality a total waste.

  4. Berlin says:

    Anywhere but England, and anywhere in England but Man U.

  5. Phillip says:

    Brek should go wherever he wants to go.

    If he wants to go to Manchester United, he should go.

  6. eplnfl says:

    Ferguson has a sharp eye for young talent. No doubt. For some reason American players have not developed for him. Is his disciplined style not suited to the more free spirited American minded players. Do American players lack the physical element that the EPL demands? Soccer is still regarding by Americans as a non-contact sport, which we know it is not, but in youth soccer and high school soccer the physical side of the game is not “practiced or preached”. Can part of the problem be that by the time American players reach England their habits so to speak are established, and that they will never fit in a system such as Man U’s. Maybe just part of the problem.

  7. Kwi Yank says:

    The problem is English teams move on when they decide a guy isn’t worth the time.

    I actually agree with the original premise by Kartik.

    Keep Shea and other youngsters in a system where a premium is placed on player development and a snap judgement is not made to buy a replacement whatever the cost.

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