Making sense of Shea's slump 

February, 1, 2012

Question: Which American player's performance was the most underwhelming during the national team's recent friendlies against Venezuela and Panama?

For many fans, the answer was the performance of Brek Shea, after the 21-year-old left winger -- who won U.S. Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year award for a splendid 2011 with MLS club FC Dallas and Jurgen Klinsmann's squad -- failed to sustain any attacking threat during 180 minutes of action over the two games.

Was Shea tired? Sick? Is the burden of unrealistic expectation about to claim another young, talented American soccer player?

Turns out Shea was a little tired. He's the only U.S. player to appear in every one of Klinsmann's nine games at the helm, and he's had only two weeks off in the past year thanks to the training stint the German coach arranged for the Texan during the domestic offseason.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.