A New Chapter Awaits
- Updated: August 1, 2012
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.