Brek Shea eager for new challenge in Atlanta

Newly-signed U.S. international Brek Shea is still getting the lay of the land at his new club –– “I’m still just trying to remember where the bathrooms are,” he says with a laugh –– but he doesn’t have to think long to explain why he chose Atlanta United as his new club.

“This club speaks for itself,” Shea told reporters in his first news briefing. “When you watch this team play, they’re exciting to watch. Then you add the crowd and the stadium, and obviously they won [MLS Cup] last year. It’s a great city with great fans and a great organization.”

Shea has spent the past two years in Vancouver, so he’s only gotten a chance to play the Five Stripes in person twice so far. But the Five Stripes, both on and off the field, clearly caught his eye.

“Obviously playing against them, seeing their games and [watching them] in the playoffs as well. They’re an exciting team to watch –– they go forward, they create a lot of chances and score a lot of goals.”

So now he’s here, with one Atlanta United training session under his belt. So what’s his impression so far?

“It was sharp for the first day,” he said. “Frank [de Boer] came in, laid down the rules, and we had our first session. I think it went well. He told the guys what he expects and that was it. He’s going to push us, but he knows that the team was good last year and he’s going to try to continue that, just with a different approach.”

Shea says he’s flexible about where on the field he lines up under Frank de Boer –– though he assumes he’ll play somewhere on the left side as he has for much of his career. But he emphasized he’s here to do whatever his new coach asks of him.

“New manager, new team for me,” he said. “So it’s about what does he want from me, what can I do to help him and the team, so that’s where I’m at.”

Shea was once a regular in the U.S. Men’s National Team camps, but hasn’t been called up since 2015. Having a great season with Atlanta United could take him a step closer to featuring for his country again, but he’s not even close to thinking about that yet.

“First and foremost I want to play well for Atlanta. When you play well for your club team, chances like that happen. I feel if I focus well and play well here, then playing for the national team could be reachable.”

But one thing’s for sure: Shea is eager to get himself and his family settled for an exciting next chapter of his career.

“I know about Atlanta, I like the South, so I was excited for that. And the soccer side couldn’t have been more exciting.”