Defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United is set to sign former U.S. national team midfielder Brek Shea, multiple sources confirmed to Goal on Thursday.
Shea, 28, will join Atlanta United as a free agent after the Vancouver Whitecaps failed to pick up the option year on his contract. Shea spent two seasons with the Whitecaps after joining from Orlando City. He played in 28 matches in 2018, recording three goals and two assists.
The former Stoke City midfielder gives Atlanta United a versatile left-footed option, and can play anywhere from left back to left wing, and even as a left forward. The 6-foot-3 American has made 34 appearances for the U.S. national team, and is a former USMNT teammate of Atlanta United general manager Carlos Bocanegra.
It has been a busy offseason for Atlanta United, having bid farewell to head coach Tata Martino, and having earlier this week hired Dutch coach Frank DeBoer as Martino's replacement. Atlanta United is also set to sign Argentinian midfielder Gonzalo 'Pity' Martinez from newly-crowned Copa Libertadores champions River Plate. Martinez's arrival is expected to help replace star playmaker Miguel Almiron, who is reportedly being pursued by multiple European clubs.
Shea's arrival should help give the team some depth on the left side, and could help offset the departure of U.S. national team left back Greg Garza, who operated both as a left back and left wing back for the Five Stripes. Shea has experience in both roles, and can also give the team an attacking option higher up the field.
Garza has been the lone high-profile departure so far from Atlanta United, which succeeded in re-signing captain Michael Parkhurst to a new deal and avoided losing any players in the MLS expansion draft.
Shea will be looking to rejuvenate a career that has faltered since a disappointing three-year stint in England after a $4 million transfer to Stoke City from FC Dallas in 2012. He eventually returned to MLS with Orlando City in 2015, but he never did reach the levels expected of him when he was an MLS MVP finalist in 2011 as a 21-year-old.
Atlanta United will be hoping Shea can show more of the flashes he showed towards the end of his time with the Whitecaps. He managed seven goals and four assists over two seasons playing in a variety of different roles, but scored three goals in his final seven matches of 2018 with Vancouver.
Atlanta United's offseason is set to be a short one, with the MLS champions set to compete in the Concacaf Champions League. The Five Stripes will face Costa Rican champions Herediano in the Champions League Round of 16, with the first leg of their two-leg series set for February 21.