New England Soccer Today

Revs Sign Kalifa Cissé to 3-Year Deal

Revolution head coach Jay Heaps (left) and general manager Mike Burns (right) present newly-signed midfielder Kalifa Cisse with his Revolution jersey on Monday. (Photo: New England Revolution)

In an effort to fortify its form in the middle of the park, the New England Revolution signed former Bristol City midfielder Kalifa Cisse via free transfer on Monday.

Although the club did not release financial details, Cisse’s agent confirmed via Twitter that a three-year deal was signed.

Cisse, a defensive midfielder by trade, has accumulated eight seasons’ worth of European experience between England and Portugal.

“We’re very pleased to add a player of Kalifa’s stature and experience, having played in the top divisions in Portugal and England,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “We believe he has the ability to make a significant impact on our club, both on and off the field, in 2013.”

Cisse, 28, started his professional career with Portuguese side Estoril in 2004-2005, before moving on to Boavista. He spent two seasons with As Panteras, where he caught the attention of Reading, who secured his services for 1 million euros on May 16, 2007.

At Reading, who made their first foray into English Premier League competition in 2007-08, Cisse featured in 76 games, scoring seven goals during his three seasons with the Royals.

The Malian midfielder then moved on to Bristol City, where he was reunited with the man who initially brought him on at Reading – Steve Coppell. Cisse spent two seasons with the club and featured in 61 games (two goals) before turned down an offer to rejoin the club for the 2012-13 season.

During the summer, the 6-2, 180 lbs. midfielder trialed with Bolton Wanders during the preseason, but did not receive a contract offer before his spell expired.

Most recently, Cisse joined the Revolution on trial last month, with an eye toward continuing his career in the United States.

“Once I decided to leave Bristol City it was important to take my time and make sure the next move was the right one,” Cisse said in a statement. “A number of European clubs were interested, but as soon as I met the Revolution coaches, the team and the staff, I could see everyone has a winning mentality. I felt everyone was going in the same direction, so it was an easy decision for me to sign here. I’ve come to New England to make an impact and help the team win titles.”

At the international level, Cisse, who has dual French and Malinese citizenship, has worn the colors of Mali five times at the senior level. His last cap came on August 10, 2011 against Tunisia.

By adding Cisse to the roster, the Revolution have made their intentions of fortifing their midfield top priority. Days prior to Cisse’s signing, the club re-acquired midfielder Andy Dorman on a free transfer. The 30-year-old midfielder spent four seasons in Foxboro (2004-2007) before he made a move to Europe.

The two signings come weeks after the Revolution closed out their 2012 campaign, one which saw their midfield especially struggle following the trade of eight-time MLS All-Star Shalrie Joseph to Chivas USA on Aug. 1.

Though veteran Clyde Simms provided a steadying presence at defensive midfielder, the Revolution struggled with possession and distribution. By season’s end, it was clear that the middle third needed serious repairs during the winter.

He will officially be added to the Revolution’s 2013 roster upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and his U.S. P-1 Visa, and he will occupy an international roster spot.


  1. rick sewall

    November 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Cisse is a pretty competent player, probably a good signing.

  2. brian

    November 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    It does appear to be a good signing and possible upgrade. I wonder what, if anything, this means for retaining Simms? I am more optimistic about this one than Dorman. As a side note I notice the union sent 3 of their players (or will be) for training stints in Europe. I would really like to see the revs do the same especially with some of their younger players. this is one of the decided disadvantages of burns/heaps, a seeming lack of connections outside mls.

    • Chris B

      November 19, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Yeah I’d also like to see some our younger guys getting trained by top European teams!

  3. Revs GO Revs

    November 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    An unknown 2nd level european player in the Revs lineup. Hopefully he will be more like Sene and less like Flochner

    Hard to get really excited about him. He is surely not Robbie Keane.

  4. Mat

    November 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Like someone else said, when I first heard this I wondered what this move meant for Clyde. Or do you think Cisse will take on a role as a defender? I’ve read that he has played as a CB before as well. Either way, I am excited to see new blood that isn’t from an unknown south american team or from a 3rd division european team. Hope it works out.

  5. Brian O'Connell

    November 20, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I think Simms should be worried. He’s a good player in his own right, but the question that comes to mind is this: is he good enough to take over the DM role and guide the Revs to the playoffs?

    • Chris B

      November 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      I wish there was a scenario in which Simms and Cisse play together. Simms is more tactical and from what I hear, Cisse is more physical. However, at this point, we have so many midfielders this seems unlikely to happen until we trade/cut some. I think Simms/Cisse could be a lethal combo!

    • brian

      November 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      My personal feeling is the probably let Simms go and keep Gavin as a potential sub for that role Cisse is younger and more physical and it could be argued that physicality after Shalrie left was definitely lacking. While Simms doesn’t have a huge salary, it is always something the cost conscious revs think about.

  6. Mike Sheppard

    November 20, 2012 at 11:28 am

    He did well at Bristol City, reinforced the defense and distributed the ball well. Sorry to have lost him. Good luck in the USA!

  7. Aaron

    November 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    cisse is class….. any one to stop robbie keane its him

  8. ABU

    November 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Cisse played as a defensive midfielder for Boavista in the mid 2000’s. The way the refs call games in MLS I’d say he’s going to be in the running for the MLS Best XI.

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