KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Jeremy Hall vs. Brek Shea
Two months ago, the Portland Timbers were flying high against the 2010 MLS Cup runner-up FC Dallas with a near improbable 3-0 lead in front of a rollicking JELD-WEN Field crowd.
Then the game changed with some formational realignments by Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman—chief among them was moving Brek Shea off the backline and more into attack.
Shea went on to assist on a David Ferreira goal and then drop one in himself in 86th minute spreading panic throughout the stadium. Though the Timbers held on for a 3-2 victory, Shea's galvanizing performance was one to remember.
In FC Dallas’ next game in Vancouver, Ferreira went down with a season-ending injury and The Hoops looked to be in trouble.
Enter Brek Shea. (Again.)
Hyndman abandoned the experiment of Shea in the backline and moved him into the left midfield to better utilize the young player's creativity. The switch has paid new dividends for Dallas. Leading the squad with 6 goals on the season and picking up plaudits along the way plus a brand new contract extension, Shea has become a revelation for Dallas in 2011 and among one of the more exciting MLS players to watch—and not just for being at the forefront of tonsorial style.
His abilities on the ball—as opposed to his hairstyle(s)—and how the Timbers will approach him on Saturday in Texas (5:30 pm PT, Fox 12, estrellaTV 8.3, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM, MatchDay Live) is what bring us to Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up of the Match.
KeyBank Match-up of the Match
Hall has played solidly throughout this season as a fast wingback who is encouraged to rocket forward into the attacking third at every opportunity in head coach John Spencer’s fast-paced system. In Dallas, Hall will be playing on a field that holds fond memories as he and fellow Timbers defender Rodney Wallace won an NCAA title with the University of Maryland on the Pizza Hut Park pitch. Given the expected heat in Dallas, possession will be at a premium for the Timbers and Hall’s distribution into the box will be important.
But Hall’s match-up with Shea also brings a friendly component to it as well. The two were part of a select team of Generation adidas players who traveled to Spain last offseason to train and play against La Liga reserves sides. Coached by Schellas Hyndman on the trip, the team bonded and Hall and Shea remain friends—even swapping jerseys after the match in Portland back in April.
Knowing each other’s habits will come in handy. For Hall, he’ll be facing a player not afraid to shoot from anywhere on the pitch—witness Shea’s 30 yard game winner against the Galaxy. But Hall’s speed will prove to be an asset as he has been quick on the wings all season which will help not only in tracking back on the ever-dangerous Shea, but also potentially assist in blowing past him into attack.
Watching these two promising young players could be a track meet and could go a long way towards determining which team comes out on top in the Dallas heat.