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.

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com