Injury could be serious for Gold Cup final scorer, who looks set to miss start of Premier League season.
Things were finally starting to look up for Brek Shea. After making only two appearances in his debut Premier League season with Stoke City due to injury, he worked his way back to fitness over the summer and made a substantial impact upon the USMNT’s Gold Cup-winning run, including scoring the decisive goal in the final.
Unfortunately, Shea’s fairytale comeback was cut abruptly short during Tuesday’s friendly between Philadelphia Union and Stoke City.
On the 27th minute mark Matt Kassel, a Union reserve with only a half-hour of MLS play this season, came crunching down on Shea’s knee in an ill-timed, ugly challenge.
Shea limped off the field and was on crutches post-match. An MRI scan is scheduled for Wednesday, but Mark Hughes was already certain that Shea would be out for ‘a number of weeks’.
The Stoke manager told MLSSoccer.com, “It was a nasty injury. It looks like some damage to the ligaments in his knee. He’s going to be scanned. I thought it was a very, very poor challenge by the boy. What the hell was he was thinking of, I have no idea.
“It’s a friendly game,” continued the Welshman, “You need to protect your fellow professional. And I don’t think the guy did that. I don’t know who he was. Maybe he was trying to make a name for himself, I don’t know. He went the wrong way about it.”
Kassel was even booed by some of his own fans at PPL Park following his challenge on a player who everyone in the stadium would have had some form of vested interest in.
“Obviously I didn’t mean to do that,” the 23-year-old midfielder said, “I’m friends with the kid. It was completely just going for the ball. Unfortunately things happen and tonight he unfortunately got hurt.
“There was no intent at all,” he added. “I wish him all the best and I apologise for the tackle.”
Shea said, “Obviously I’m pretty upset right now. I was excited to get back to Stoke and get ready for the season. Hopefully it’s not as bad as it feels.
“He was going for the ball,” Shea said. “I tried to put my body in front of his and it’s soccer. Tackles happen – good and bad. I’ve done worse to other people. I’m not mad at all.
“When I was walking off, he apologised. And I said, ‘Shit happens.'”
The game against the Union brings the curtain down on Stoke’s preseason tour of the USA, with the Premier League side set to face Wrexham and Genoa before their Premier League opener against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday 17th August.