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U-20 MNT Midfielder Brek Shea Gears Up for Busy 2009

U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team midfielder Brek Shea has been involved in just about every level of national teams from U-17s on up. Since joining the U.S. Under-17 MNT Residency Program in January 2006, Shea has traveled with U-23s to the Toulon International and the full Men’s National Team for a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Barbados in 2008. Now a stalwart with the U-20 MNT under Thomas Rongen, Shea spoke to ahead of the team’s first training camp since its successful qualifying campaign in March.

CC: Your full name is Dane Brekken Shea, so why do you go by Brek?
BS: “You’d have to ask my parents. They have always called me that, so I’m not sure.”

CC: You’ve been able to travel a lot both with FC Dallas and with the national teams. What is your favorite place that you’ve been to?
BS: “I’d have to say Brazil. We went down there during preseason in 2008 with FC Dallas. We had a lot of fun. We went to Florianopolis, which is a beach city and it was just a lot of fun. The team went again before this season but I was at a U-20 camp. I’d love to go back though I hope we go every year.”

CC: What were the games like down there?
BS: “So much fun. We played out sister club, Atletico. We played Chivas and a second division club in Florianopolis. The game against Atletico was the only game that was open to the public, the other two were closed. Playing in their stadium in front of 40,000 crazy people was really cool. I’ve never really played in front of that many people before.”

CC: How has your experience in Residency helped you now with the U-20s and in your professional career?
BS: “I think just being there with everyone and playing every day with the best players in the country, you’re training and living with them and living soccer. It’s similar to what we do now with Dallas so it’s really helped with getting used to the environment and it’s definitely helped me as a player.”

CC: Tell us about your experience at the Toulon International Tournament with the U-23s last year.
BS: “That was a great experience in a fairly big international tournament. Playing with guys like Benny Feilhaber was pretty cool. Playing for Peter Nowak and knowing that he is obviously an assistant on the full team was great. I learned what to expect from that environment so it was a good learning experience for me. I think I played well there too, even though I didn’t score.”

CC: Do you think that playing well there led you to Barbados?
BS: “I think so. At the end of the Toulon tournament Peter told me that he was going to talk to Bob (Bradley) about the possibility, but at that point I didn’t really think I was going to get invited to a game. I got a call from the team’s General Manager and I thought she was joking. She told me I was getting on a plane the next morning and flying first class to Barbados.”

CC: What was that experience like? You weren’t in Barbados very long but did you learn anything from being around that team?
BS: “It was a lot of fun. I roomed with Freddy (Adu) and just being around the players that I’ve always watched and seeing how they did things on the field and how they acted off the field was pretty amazing. It definitely made me want to get back to that team as soon as I could.”

CC: You’re pretty well known for having unique hair styles. Have you always been so adventurous with your ‘do?
BS: “Yes. I don’t like to what everybody else has so I’ve always added a little something to it. I don’t want it to be too wild but I do want it to stand out. I try and add some spice to it, but yea I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. There are always new things that can be done. I can add colors, I’ve always thought about doing red, like a red mohawk.”

CC: What’s the best hairdo you’ve ever had?
BS: “I used to have really long hair and I think it was the 2006 Nike Friendlies that I put it into a double ponytail, it was so sweet. It was like, how a Samurai ponytail catches the top part of his hair, but then I added another ponytail at the bottom. It was so great.”

CC: Off the field, what has been the best part about being a professional now?
BS: “My favorite thing was definitely being able to get my dog, Kirra. She’s a 10-month-old Siberian Husky. I got her in August. She’s not the most expensive thing I’ve bought, but she’s definitely the best.”

CC: This is a big year for you as a second-year pro and with the FIFA U-20 World Cup coming up, what are most excited about?
BS: “I really can’t wait for the U-20 World Cup. I’ve never been to Egypt and after watching the 2007 U-20 World Cup on television I wanted to get to that level so much more. I can’t wait for that opportunity. It’s a little different now from the FIFA U-17 World Cup because then we all lived together and we were together training all the time and taking trips. Now we have some guys who need to finish their semesters, others who need to get released by their club and we can really only do camps here and there, but I really look forward to getting together with those guys and I’m so excited about the chance to play in the World Cup.”