Brek Shea delivered when it counted.
That should be enough to grant the 23-year-old midfielder a formidable place on the United States football team moving forward.
Not only did Shea score the game-winner against Costa Rica in the group stage of the 2013 Gold Cup, he also scored the game-winner against Panama in the final.
And, yet, he appears to be overshadowed to some degree.
After the USA's 1-0 victory in the final against Panama, manager Jurgen Klinsmann said, via Anthony Zilis of MLSSoccer.com:
I think that element with Brek, coming in and taking people on and having a surprising element in his game, I think every opponent would feel that. As a coach, you think, if you do something now, what would an opponent feel from your end. And you see a guy like Brek, [he's] unpredictable, for himself and for the opponent.
Notice Klinsmann never said anything about Shea being a difference-maker or a game-changer.
Heck, even Shea was humble after his game-winner, via the MLSSoccer.com report: “How good it went, it still went up and down. I still had good times, bad times. But the team was great the whole time.”
Of course, Shea's rough outing against Cuba in the group stage bears noting. According to MLSSoccer.com's "Chalkboard," Shea lost 14 balls in his 45 minutes on the pitch before being subbed out at the half.
But you look at what Shea did after that and you have to not only commend him, but also grant him a solid spot in the USA's next string of World Cup qualifying matches, which start in September.
Perhaps Shea isn't as consistent as Klinsmann would like, but he does seize the moment when called upon. He scored the game-winner against Panama less than a minute after being sent out onto the pitch. He scored the game-winner against Costa Rica in the group stage six minutes after being sent out onto the pitch.
Call it unpredictability, clutch ability or whatever you like, the fact of the matter is, Shea manufactured two wins for the United States in the 2013 Gold Cup. That should be recognized.
I don't know whether Klinsmann's comments after the Gold Cup title were meant to push Shea to some degree, but I certainly don't believe that Klinsmann is ignoring Shea's accomplishments. Klinsmann has proven himself to be too good a manager so far to do that.
In the end, Shea hasn't been unpredictable at all. He has been efficient. He scored two goals on four shots in the Gold Cup.
Consider Shea to be a "secret weapon" for Klinsmann to unleash moving forward. Secret, that is, if you haven't been paying attention to the young lad.
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