By any measure, 2012 has been tough on Brek Shea.
Heading into the year, the 22-year-old FC Dallas winger was supposed to be the face of the U.S. Olympic squad, cement his status as a starter for the senior national team and maybe even score a big-money transfer from MLS to a team in one of the world's top leagues.
Instead, Shea has been hampered by a season-long battle with turf toe. His under-23 team failed to qualify for London. And after a pair of very public meltdowns, he lost his place with the Yanks and FCD.
Shea wouldn't be the first overly hyped U.S. youngster to stumble under the weight of expectation, but there are signs that the rangy Texan is emerging from his funk and finding his game -- the match-winning assist he picked up in Mexico City last week following a surprise recall from coach Jurgen Klinsmann being the obvious example.
Like his slide from prodigy to problem child, redemption actually has been a few months in the making.