As recently as four months ago, the chances of Andy Dorman returning to Foxboro resided somewhere in between slim and none.
Following a bitter split in which Dorman and the club couldn’t hammer out a contract extension during the 2007-08 offseason, it looked very much like the Welsh midfielder was gone for good.
Although the failed negotiations left him with a bad taste, Dorman, who went on to star in Scotland and England in the wake of his departure, never discarded the idea of donning the Revolution uniform again.
“I guess it’s always in the back of your mind,” Dorman said. “Obviously I had a good time (in New England). I love Boston as a city and the team, so I think (the idea) was always there, to come back and play here.”
The opportunity to return started innocently enough with a conversation. Last September, Dorman approached head coach Jay Heaps, who played with Dorman from 2004-2007, looking for a place to train while he searched for his next stop.
Heaps was receptive to the idea. Not long afterward, Dorman was back the Revolution training pitch, and his discussions with Heaps deepened when the topic of the midfielder’s career came up. In Dorman, Heaps saw the kind of player – a savvy, technically-sound veteran – whom he believed could strengthen his squad, on the field and in the locker room.
“Andy commands a certain level of respect from the players around him because he’s a great locker room player that players want to be around,” Heaps said. “Not only that, but he has the international experience. So now he returns with even more experience because he’s had stays at other clubs and that’s important for other guys to understand – other cultures – other locker rooms, and Andy’s kind of the perfect person to lead them in that direction.”
Dorman came to terms with the club just before Thanksgiving. So much for those odds. The lanky Welshman who came to the Revolution via nearby Boston University was back.
On Saturday, Dorman kicked off his second stint in New England - and with a familiar face brandishing the whistle. It was something that caught the prodigal son off guard.
“I guess to start off it’s a little strange,” Dorman said. “But Jay was one of the older players when I was here, one of the more experienced guys, always loud in the locker room and stuff so it’s not too different.”
But not everything’s the same since Dorman’s last game in a Revolution uniform, which incidentally, happened to be the 2007 MLS Cup.
Back then, a 25-year-old Dorman leaned on teammates like Heaps, Steve Ralston, Matt Reis and Joe Franchino for guidance. Now, at 30, he knows that he’ll be the one counted upon to help lead the youngsters.
“It’s good looking around the locker room and you see a lot of young guys,” Dorman said. “Diego (Fagundez) is 17 , so it’s a new thing, but at the same time it’s good. I’m looking forward to the extra responsibility this season.”
Meanwhile, Heaps undoubteldy looks at Dorman and fellow veterans Kalifa Cisse and Jose Goncalves as valuable resources for a team that experienced its fair share of growing pains last season.
“(It’s) great for us because the younger players can lean on them,” Heaps said. “Then, (the veterans) can learn the league a little bit in the preseason as opposed to the first or second game of the year.”
Yes, Goncalves and Cisse may need time to learn and adjust to MLS. But Dorman?
Been there, done that.