VANCOUVER, BC – When Carl Robinson moved to bring Brek Shea in to his Vancouver Whitecaps FC squad in February, it certainly raised a few eyebrows around the league.
Shea had been playing as a left back at Orlando City, but Robinson made it clear from the start that he saw Shea as an attacker in his team, whether that be on the wing or as a striker. Robinson has used Shea at both spots so far, and has been delighted with the results. Shea has now scored in back-to-back substitute appearances for Vancouver, and Robinson believes it's only the start as to what the 27-year-old will bring to the 'Caps this season.
A late tally at Houston makes it three straight with a goal
"He was a nightmare to play against," Robinson, who went up against Shea in his playing days, told reporters. "I think you're seeing that the way he's playing now. We know he's athletic and strong. He's direct. You think you can get the ball as a defender and you can't.
"He's scored two goals in 40-odd minutes the last two games he's played. It's nice to have him back. He brings a freshness around the place. When he's fit, and raring to go, and he's confident, then there's not a better player in the league in that position."
Brek gets a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Colorado
Shea is just coming back from a knee injury he suffered in the Whitecaps' CONCACAF Champions League game against Tigres in April. He scored early in that match before having to go off, and that tally combined with his recent two make it three straight appearances for him with a goal.
Still, despite his goal-scoring exploits, Shea is not yet fully fit. Robinson said that Shea could maybe go a half "at a stretch", which is understandable given that Shea was expected to miss up to 12 weeks but returned in half that time.
His first 'Caps goal vs. Tigres in the Champions League
While the Whitecaps would prefer to have Shea at peak fitness, they are nonetheless pleased with what he has brought to the table thus far.
"Everybody knows the way he practices, the way he helps us on the pitch, because he's explosive," captain Kendall Waston said. "Great quality with the ball, big. He helps us a lot. That is what teammates need when you have substitutions when they come in fresh. They have to give the team another level. I think he's given us that, and all the other things as well."
Added Jordan Harvey: "He's a great guy. He's only brought positivity into this locker room. Unfortunately he's picked up an injury earlier in the season in that Tigres game, but he's only brought quality to our team."