People Issue

Brek Shea: The Franchise

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Mark Graham. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Brek Shea just finished training at FC Dallas Stadium, and now he's smashing oranges in the stadium parking lot. He's in a Ford pickup, a new one that allegedly won't flip, so he banks sharply, and somehow the wheels stay on the ground, and he straightens out, speeds down a lane and rolls through a pile of oranges, smashing them flat. He backs up a couple of feet until the back left tire is in the pulverized oranges, and with his foot on the brake, he gives the truck some gas, throwing peels and pulp everywhere. Citrus fills the air.

"How was it?" he asks out of the window.

"Dude, that was perfect!" the media team yells in unison, as if they'd say anything different to the 22-year-old face of the franchise.

Shea nods, then drives across the street to Firehouse Subs and orders a large cold cut. Only a couple of people recognize him, and only one employee asks him to autograph a Brek Shea bobblehead. He does, graciously. The autograph may be worth something one day. Shea may just be the future of American soccer.

"There's no other player like me," the left winger says. It's not arrogance. It's science. Look at him: narrow 6-foot-4 frame, corded arms, implausibly wide shoulders. He's bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled than just about everyone in this league or any other. He had a nice backstroke growing up, was a decent basketball player and even better at football. He even paints. A little heavy with his strokes, but he paints.

He finished third in the MLS's MVP race last year on his way to becoming a U.S. national team regular. He's fought injuries this year and been suspended for a little outburst, and his misplay might have cost the national team an Olympic bid. No matter: Look at him. He'll be fine.

Shea puts his sub down and looks at a television. There's an Adidas commercial running, and he's in it. For about 20 seconds he's entranced as other patrons are looking to the television, then back to him.

"That one scene took like six hours to shoot," he says, and picks up his sandwich and takes another bite.

See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

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Greg Howard