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Progress seems afoot in the Brek Shea recovery bid

New York Red Bulls v FC Dallas

FRISCO, TX - MARCH 11: Head coach Schellas Hyndman of the FC Dallas calls out a play during the second half of a soccer game against the New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas Stadium on March 11, 2012 in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won 2-1. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)

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In the end, two games away may do a universe of good for Brek Shea, the young U.S. international winger whose performance has gone so alarmingly off track.

It sounds like the break – which is apparently more about getting the young man’s mind right and less about discipline related to the incident in San Jose two weeks ago – is already paying off. Here’s what FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman said about Shea following Saturday’s loss to Los Angeles. Like the week before, Shea was left out of the 18-man game-day roster.

We feel the best thing we can do with Brek is to give him a chance to remove himself from the pressure and kind of let him figure things out. … What Brek has been doing is trying to live up to expectations of everyone else and himself. And when the game doesn’t go well for him, it gets really frustrating and the pressure really mounts.”

Shea is 22, but just now dealing with the first real hardships of his professional career. The devastating Olympic gut-punch was just a start. Then came a turf toe injury, the team’s struggles, his exclusion from a huge, month-long U.S. national team camp, more team struggles, being asked to play out of position … and all the personal performance worries that acted as an accelerant on it all.

Hyndman said things began looking up during the final two practices before last week’s match:

One of the things for us to take a step in the right direction is to recognize that something wasn’t right. I think he has come to that realization. I think the last two practices he had were very good. I asked him why and he said he feels that for once this year the pressure is off of him.”