In soccer, positions matter. Normally, at an early age, a player finds his comfort zone, whether that takes them into the goal or up top as a forward. Certain unteachable skills direct a player to where they are most comfortable. For the past year and a half, we’ve been watching a player who was out of his position. Brek Shea was lining up at left fullback and, thankfully, those days are over.
Brek’s back out in the wing midfield position under new Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis. For the Lions, this move couldn’t have come at a better time and is already producing better levels of soccer from the talented, yet turbulent player — goals in the past two games, better passing, and more hustle. Being in the right position truly does matter.
The left fullback experiment wasn’t a complete and total failure — no, there were moments of solid play and even of brilliance. The idea, of course, was to find a position for him to play that would help both club and country. Yet, did it help the player? I’d say over the past season and a half Brek’s play had gotten so bad where he really had no business being in the starting 11 most games.
The problem, and why the whole experiment was doomed from the beginning, was skill set. Brek is a high-energy player who takes chances, likes to get in on the rush, and isn’t afraid to rough up the opposition. For a midfield position, that is perfectly acceptable, especially alongside the likes of Kaká and Kevin Molino, who both play a more calm and controlled game. They both know and use Brek’s skills to keep the flow of the offense.
Now, put that same type of player on the back line, and he becomes a hazard. Bad fouls are taken, not getting back in time after rushing in with the offense, getting frustrated and quitting on plays happens way too much. Orlando City’s defense isn’t good enough as a unit to have a player like that on the back line.
The Brek we’re seeing now is the one that reminds us of his time with FC Dallas. He’s not quite back to that level of beautiful havoc-creating midfield play, but he’s getting close. The game seems like it is more fun for him, too. When you’re out of position and struggling, what should be something you love to do becomes a chore. That no longer applies to Brek. He’s found his groove and that devil-may-care smile is back on his face.
Kreis has, in my opinion, done an excellent job of getting players into their comfort zones (Antonio Nocerino would be another example) to take advantage of their skills. Shea was on his way to having a very bad season, but with this recent turn-around, he can end it on a very high note. With the playoff chase coming into the last few weeks, having him in his ideal position and contributing might be the difference between watching the playoffs on TV and participating in them.