New England Soccer Today

A New Chapter Awaits

With Shalrie Joseph gone, the Revolution hope they can use the move to find the next centerpiece of their franchise. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Since the 2003 season, Shalrie Joseph has been the foundation for the New England Revolution. A second round pick in 2002 out of St. John’s University (NY), Joseph became one of Major League Soccer’s best central midfielders. He was the bedrock that the Revolution built around for the team’s three consecutive MLS Cup appearances from 2005-2007. Now, the midfielder is gone, traded to Chivas USA for midfielder Blair Gavin, Chivas USA’s natural second-round selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money.

Joseph’s move marks the end to an era. Playmaker Steve Ralston is long gone (retired). Taylor Twellman no longer hunts in the box, looking to pick his spot and score goals — he retired because of debilitating concussions. Other players moved on to Europe, Michael Parhurst and Clint Dempsey being the most notable. The Revs most successful coach Steve Nicol saw his tenure end at the end of last season, which was the second season in a row the team missed the playoffs. Joseph was the final piece left over, and it looked like he was going to be in New England for a while after signing a contract that made him a Designated Player over the summer. Apparently it wasn’t meant to be.

“Trading Shalrie was a not a decision we made easily,” says General Manager Michael Burns in the team’s press release regarding the trade. “Shalrie has been one of the faces of the club for a decade, but we had to take a hard look at our roster and decide where we needed to be as we look toward the future. Shalrie has accomplished so much as a member of the Revs, and we wish him nothing but best wishes as he moves on to the next stage in his career with Chivas USA.”

Chivas acquires the 34-year-old midfielder hoping he can give the team the bite and playmaking king ability it desperately needs in the midfield. Joseph was one of MLS’s finest holding midfielders in his day, and should have won MVP awards and been recognised for his ability and leadership in the center of the field long before 2009 when he was nominated as an MVP finalist. But the past two seasons have seen Joseph’s form slip a bit. No longer is he running games, winning every ball that comes through the midfield and making the impact everyone expected from him. It was partly due to the fact that he was being asked to do everything on the field, defend, score, create and manage his teammates.

The pressure was overbearing. Joseph was the only consistent in an ever revolving squad that got younger and less experienced. He was also asked to play further up the field, as a target forward playing behind less than adequate forwards. That all seems to have changed since Jay Heaps took control of the team and Burns took complete control of signing players. The Revs score goals now, but the side isn’t getting results. The team has become younger, faster and its style has changed from a kick-and-chase side to a ball on the ground, quick passing team. And Heaps and Burns decided Joseph didn’t fit their plans for the future, and that his contract hamstrung them from adding the type of players they want to bring in.

What makes this move at all bearable for New England is the acquisition of Clyde Simms in the summer and his play as the team’s primary ball-winner in the midfield. Simms has even wore Joseph’s captain’s armband when he wasn’t in the line-up.

New England did get some midfield cover for Joseph in the trade by acquiring Blair Gavin, a defensive midfielder in his third season in MLS after leaving Akron and being drafted 10th in the 2010 SuperDraft. Gavin has made 43 appearances — 31 starts — for Chivas in three seasons. His smaller contract and his age makes him a perfect addition to the Revs, who are looking to get younger and acquire more cap space in the coming offseason to make another splash in the transfer market like the one it made a few weeks ago when it signed Honduran international Jerry Bengtson, who, as of writing this, has three goals for the Honduran Olympic team.

Joseph will forever be revered by Revolution fans for his contributions to the team and his fun-loving personality. He was the man who made the Revs tick for so many years and he never complained about not being recognized with the accolades he deserved. But it was time for the player and the team to move on from one another. New England is re-building and it needs a new foundation, and by moving Joseph, the Revs have a chance to try and find that player.


  1. drizzl

    August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Nicol, Dempsey, Twellman, Noonan, Parkhurst, Dorman, Ralston, all gone. Now Joseph. The only one left from the glory days is Reis, and it seems like he’s slowly being put out to pasture as well.

    Always sad to see the end of an era.

    • Chris B

      August 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Definitely sad.

      But hey, with Sene, Jerry, Nguyen, Feilhaber, Rowe, A.J, Macca, etc who knows, a new, great era could be coming in! 🙂

  2. rick sewall

    August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    There are three basic qualities the midfielder the Revs are looking for should have: emotional maturity, a talent for reading the game in order to make correct decisions, and skill, especially passing ability. Notice I am leaving out speed, dribbling skill, and scoring talent, although those are nice to have. Having them in addition to the first three puts a player in the superstar category . No one presently on the Revs has the first three qualities , so I guess they are looking for someone on the outside. This player will not be easy to find.

    • Chris B

      August 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Really?!? You don’t think Clyde Simms, a seven year MLS veteran who is not known for committing fouls, getting booked, etc doesn’t have “emotional maturity”? You also don’t think Simms has “a talent for reading the game” and “skill/passing ability” when he usually completes the vast majority of his passes?

      Sorry, but I disagree if you say we don’t presently have a midfielder by those standards.

  3. rick sewall

    August 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    By the way, when Sharlie was at his peak, he rated pretty high in most of the categories previously stated. I’m surprised he didn’t play in Europe.

    • weefuse

      August 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      He didn’t play in Europe because MLS wouldn’t let him go. In 2007 (during the “peak” you noted) Celtic offered 2m for him and MLS said “no thanks.”

  4. rick sewall

    August 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    About dribbling- a midfielder doesn’t have to be able to beat a defender, just be able to hold the ball.

  5. rick sewall

    August 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Chris, Simms has those abilities you listed except I haven’t seen him make a good penetrating pass the way Benny can. An offensive midfielder needs to be able to do this. Simms is a defensive midfielder and shouldn’t be required to do this, a very difficult skill. If you say Clyde has and can make a penetrating pass then I’m wrong. I confess to not going to Rev games in person and therefore may not have seen what you have. TV can be limiting.

    • Chris B

      August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      I guess there was just confusion about what was originally said. I didn’t know you meant offensive midfielder. I haven’t seen (live and in person) Simms make any killer passes like Benny has, at least not ones I can remember.

  6. rick sewall

    August 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I see how my original statement was confusing. Sorry about that. Wouldn’t it be great if they could get a midfielder at least somewhat like Pirlo or Scholes. I have to say that I think most coaches in America do very little to develop midfielders. They are too afraid of mistakes and a loss that may result. I know coaches who won’t allow back passes, especially to goalkeepers. They don’t teach the possession game. Too dangerous. They overly restrict player’s freedom to choose and to play creatively.

  7. david (@hegartydavid)

    August 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    He’s a legend, and in a way I wish he was sold to Celtic. He deserved to show his class at the highest levels. My question is will these owner’s ever invest in what could be a great franchise?

    • Kevin Koczwara

      August 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

      I agree on the Celtic front. Every player deserves the shot to try to move on if the move is there. I think this season you’re seeing that the Krafts are investing in the team more, and it’s always important to remember that without the Kraft family there is now MLS. I don’t much like sticking up for the way things have been done in the past, but the Krafts have done plenty to keep the league alive (i.e. suggesting the hire of Don Garber).

  8. rick sewall

    August 2, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I sure didn’t know MLS turned down the Celtic offer for Sharlie. MLS has too much control. It is tough for a team to improve if they can’t make their own decisions. Should have been the Revs choice whether or not to make the move.

    • Chris B

      August 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      In the past MLS had control of that stuff. Now they have less control and the individual clubs have more say.

  9. rick sewall

    August 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Nice to know. I confess ignorance about league-club relationships and overall control of trades, etc.

  10. W Peter Jones

    August 3, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Hi I think the Revs slapped the DP on Joseph just for a excuse to dump his salary and trade him Put it this way the revs never pay for any high price player it been a revolving door for years ie Dorman he was looking for a pay rise he didnt get won and left on a free transfer to St Mirran. The Revs are like the Harry Sidden GM Bruins he was quit happy to some less known player as long as the Garden was full every game night he was happy?? It makes me wonder if the KRAFTS are interested in having a succesfull team how many lean years do we suffer before some CUPS To me I would like BENNY F to be traded over payed and over rated he looses a lot of balls to the oposition he is a dud

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