Brek Shea is officially out of Stoke City. The American midfielder, who has seen his career spiral since signing with the Premier League club, is on his way back to MLS after agreeing to a deal with Orlando City.
Shea's move to Orlando has been coming for a long time. He had to get out of Stoke, who had no interest in playing him, and while reports indicated that he'd have preferred to remain in Europe, the offers weren't pouring in. At the same time, Shea trained with Orlando last summer, the club's general manager is his former agent and the Lions' chairman Phil Rawlins used to be on the Stoke board. In the end, Shea spoke highly of his time training with orlando, the Lions wanted him and Rawlins was able to work out a deal.
Because Shea is a United States international and FC Dallas relinquished their rights to him when they sold him, he was subject to the allocation order. Orlando was second, but NYCFC passed on him with the No. 1 spot so the Lions grabbed him.
It's still unclear how Orlando will play next season and whether the club is a good fit for Shea. It all makes sense off of the pitch, and he should get plenty of playing time, so it's going to be an improvement on Stoke, but is it a great place for him? We'll have a better idea after the Lions put together more of their roster so it becomes clearer how good the team can be and how they plan to use Shea.
Amazingly, Shea is just two years removed from being a legitimate MVP candidate and is only 24 years old. As bad as the last two years have been, it would be silly to bury him now. The talent is still there and he's young enough to turn things around. He needs to get better and there's nothing resembling a guarantee that he will be good again, but it's hardly out of the question.
Maybe he does put it together again. Maybe he does become one of MLS's best again. It's possible, and you can bet Jurgen Klinsmann will be hoping it does happen. The U.S. is short on left-footed players and wingers so there's a place for Shea to walk into, he just has to be good enough to deserve it again.