New England Soccer Today

Revolution Best XI Ever

To celebrate the end of the New England Revolution’s 15th season, New England Soccer Today took a look back at the players that have made the biggest impact on the team since their first match back in 1996. We asked those in the know to vote on a best XI and bench for the Revolution, and tallied them to find out who would make the cut on our Revs all-time Best XI.

The voting panel consisted of Frank Dell’Apa (Boston Globe), Kyle McCarthy (Boston Herald,,, Walter Silva (Portuguese Times), Monty Rodrigues (President, Midnight Riders), Tony Biscaia (, Jim Dow (, and Mike Marshall (, as well as New England Soccer Today’s Brian O’Connell and Sean Donahue.

Voters were asked to select the following: a starting goalkeeper, four starting defenders, four starting midfielders and two starting forwards in addition to a bench of one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, and two strikers. Votes for starting candidates were weighted three times more than a vote for a substitute. The criteria for selection was a minimum of 30 games played for the Revs, while any player not listed was eligible as a write-in.

Not surprisingly, Taylor Twellman, Joe-Max Moore, Steve Ralston, Shalrie Joseph, and Clint Dempsey were  unanimous selections to our Best XI, while Revs originals Francis Okaroh and Ted Chronopoulos also earned well-deserved starting spots on the list.

Players are listed by position in the order of how many votes they received, with the top vote-getter listed first.

New England Soccer Today’s All-Time Revolution Best XI:


Voting breakdown: Reis, who led the Revs during their most successful period from 2005-2007, was a near unanimous choice for starting goalkeeper, appearing as the starter on all but two ballots. Italian star Walter Zenga narrowly beat out playoff hero of the early 2000s, Adin Brown, for a spot on the bench.

Matt Reis (2003-Present)

Reis was a clear choice for starting goalkeeper in our All-Time Best XI. (Photo by Art Donahue/

The 13-year veteran backstopped the Revs through the most impressive era in team history, shattering nearly every team goalkeeping record along the way. Reis, who helped the Revs to three MLS Cup Finals,  holds the team record in goals against average (1.29), wins (75), saves (757), shutouts (50) and save percentage (.729), as well as games in goal (188) and starts in goal (187). Acquired from the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2003 trade, Reis got the starting spot after Brown went down with an injury in 2004 and never looked back. Suffice to say, Reis has been huge for the Revolution, making crucial penalty saves, keeping the team in games with his shot-stopping ability, and organizing the backline. He earned Revolution MVP honors in 2006 and Revolution Defender of the Year accolades in 2004. The four-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist currently holds a 75-62-51 record in goal with the Revs.

(sub) Walter Zenga (1997, 1999)

Nicknamed “Spiderman” because of his amazing shot-stopping abilities, Zenga became a fan favorite and a recognizable figure with his backwards spider web baseball hat as he led the Revs to their first postseason appearance in 1997. The former Inter Milan star posted an impressive 1.27 goals against average and 0.717 save percentage for the Revs in 1997, earning the team’s MVP award. His return to the team in 1999 as a player-coach wasn’t quite as successful as Zenga was let go after the team struggled to a 10-20 record and was eliminated from playoff contention with two games remaining. The Italian international finished his Revolution career with a 1.60 goals against average, a .664 save percentage and a 20-20 record in goal.

Also receiving votes: Adin Brown (’02-’04)


Voting breakdown: Cerebral center back Michael Parkhurst led the way among defenders, appearing on all but one ballot as a starter. Parkhurst was closely followed by long-time right back Jay Heaps. Center back Francis Okaroh and left back Ted Chronopoulos, who were both a part of the Revs inaugural season, rounded out the starting defense. Joe Franchino and Alexi Lalas edged out Mike Burns by just one vote, while Mauricio Wright, Ivan McKinley, Dan Calichman, and Rusty Pierce were close behind.

Michael Parkhurst (2005-2008)

Parkhurst led all defenders in votes. (Photo by Art Donahue/

The only Revolution player ever to earn MLS Defender of the Year, Parkhurst distinguished himself during his time with the team with excellent positioning and smart play. The Rhode Island native, taken by the Revs with the ninth pick in the 2005 SuperDraft, was a key to the team’s best stretch in history from 2005 till 2007 in which they claimed a U.S. Open Cup Championship and appeared in three MLS Cups.  Parkhurst’s exceptional play rarely saw him commit fouls and earned him a pair of MLS Fair Play Awards. He was also recognized for his efforts off the field with the 2006 MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award. Parkhurst rarely, if ever, crossed midfield and fittingly scored the only goal of his career with a spectacular 60-yard strike from midfield against Toronto in the final regular season game of the 2007 season. Parkhurst’s performances didn’t go unnoticed, earning him multiple call-ups to the U.S. National Team and a subsequent move to Denmark’s FC Nordsjælland.

Jay Heaps (2001-2009)

While it may have taken the former Blue Devil until his final season to earn Revolution Defender of the Year, Heaps was a mainstay in the Revolution backline for the duration of his Revolution career. He currently leads the team in games played (243) and games started (238) and contributed nine goals and 26 assists in his time with the Revs. The native New Englander (Nashua, NH) spent most of his career as a right back, but proved a good option at center back as well when called upon. Acquired in a trade with the Miami Fusion, the 1999 MLS Rookie of the Year became a leader of the Revs backline. Despite standing at just five feet, nine inches tall, Heaps incredible leaping ability allowed him to guard much taller defenders and posed a danger offensively on set pieces. As a right back, Heaps was capable of making penetrating runs forward and added a threat to the Revs attack until his retirement at the end of the 2009 season.

Francis Okaroh (1996-1997)

Okaroh made the most of his two years on the Revolution, winning Defender of the Year honors each time. Despite the team’s struggles defensively, Okaroh made a name for himself as a smart, fearless defender, who never feared a good challenge. Okaroh, a product of Boston University, actually joined the Revs as a midseason call-up from the Cape Cod Crusaders in 1996. The Nigerian would start 49 games for the Revolution before being selected by the Chicago Fire in the 1997 Expansion Draft. Okaroh went on to lead the Fire to win the MLS Cup and US Open Cup in their inaugural season

Ted Chronopoulos (1996-2002)

Arguably the best left sided player ever to wear the Revolution uniform, Chronopoulos saw time as both a left back and left midfielder on the Revs. The Revs drafted Chronopoulos with the 45th pick of the 1996 Inaugural Player Draft and the former Panionios (Superleague Greece) player would go on to play 144 games, starting 140, both of which led the team heading in the 21st century. Known for the offensive threat he provided from the back, Chronopoulos scored 16 goals and added 14 assists in his seven seasons with the Revs. Chronopoulos’ Revolution career would come to end with a 2002 blockbuster midseason trade with the New York Metrostars (now the New York Red Bulls).

(sub) Joe Franchino (2000-2008)

Long-time Revolution captain Joe Franchino was named Revs Defender of the Year when the team reached their first MLS Cup Final in 2002. Acquired from the Los Angeles Galaxy midseason in a multi-team trade in 2000, Franchino was known for his ferocity on the field, never backing down from an attacker. Franchino provided some dangerous crosses when venturing forward and finished his career with the Revs with five goals and 16 assists in 108 games. His Revolution career ended when he was traded back to the Galaxy at the start of the 2008 season.

(sub) Alexi Lalas (1996-1997)

The ginger haired and goateed Lalas was an instant hit with the Foxboro faithful after becoming the poster boy for the U.S. Men’s National Team during the 1994 World Cup. Boasting a unique mixture of personality and performance, Lalas became a Revolution icon during the team’s infancy. The charismatic Lalas was allocated to the Revs prior to the league’s inaugural season in 1996 and would earn a pair of MLS All-Star appearances during his tenure with the Revs. Lalas, who played in Italy’s Serie A for Padova before joining MLS, saw his Revolution career end when the team traded him to the Metrostars prior to the 1998 season.

Also receiving votes: Mike Burns (1996-2000), Mauricio Wright (2000-2001), Ivan McKinley (1997-2000), Dan Calichman (1999-2000), Rusty Pierce (2000-2004), Carlos Llamosa (2002-2003), and Darrius Barnes (2009-Present)


Voting breakdown: Shalrie Joseph, Steve Ralston, and Clint Dempsey, who all played central roles during the club’s mid-2000s success, were unanimous selections to the midfield. Creative attacking midfielder Jose Cancela just edged out influential defensive midfielder Leonel Alvarez from the starting line-up. The versatile Andy Dorman rounded out the bench, edging out defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz by a single vote. Edwin Gorter, Brian Kamler, and Imad Baba also appeared on multiple ballots.

Shalrie Joseph (2003-Present)

A two-time Revolution MVP, Joseph has been arguably the best defensive midfielder in MLS during his time in the league. Joseph was selected by the Revs with the 14th pick in the 2002 SuperDraft, but only joined the team in 2003 after failing to find a club overseas. Few could have predicted then that the Grenadian would eventually become the Revolution’s captain and leader, not mention a midfield beast. Joseph, who was a finalist for MLS MVP in 2009, currently has 28 goals and 30 assists in 211 games for the Revs. He’s been named to the MLS Best XI four times and, not surprisingly, has garnered international interest, including an offer from Glasgow Celtic.

Steve Ralston (2002-2010)

Former Revs captain Steve Ralston set league and team assist records that should last for years to come. (Photo by Art Donahue/

No matter how you slice and dice it, Steve is an MLS legend. The all-time league leader in assists, matches played and started, and minutes, Ralston was an instant success in New England after he was taken with the sixth pick in the 2002 Allocation Draft shortly after Tampa Bay folded. Ralston made the right midfield spot his own and tallied an incredible 19 assists in his first year at the club. His superior service continued throughout his time in Foxboro, and smashed Joe-Max Moore’s team assist record with 73 helpers during his nine season stay. Ralston was eventually named captain and later moved into an attacking midfielder or withdrawn forward role, helping add to his impressive 42 goals in his 201 games with the club. Ralston was twice named Revolution MVP and earned MLS Best XI honors in 2002. He also took home the MLS Fair Play Award in 2009 and retired a year later after injuries had finally caught up with the MLS Ironman.

Clint Dempsey (2004-2006)

Dempsey’s impressive three years with the Revs led to him earning a move to England’s Fulham FC and becoming a star with the U.S. National Team. Drafted by the Revs with the eighth pick of the 2004 SuperDraft, Dempsey started his career seeing much of his time at next to Joseph in the center of a five man midfield behind Cancela. While there, he showed a knack for making late runs into the box and scoring on diving headers. The Revs started the 2005 season with an incredible 11 game unbeaten run and 9-1-5 record just before the midway point with Deuce making a huge impact as a defensive mid. Dempsey eventually moved up the field, playing forward and attacking midfielder, in Cancela’s place at times, allowing him to showcase his dazzling creativity, dribbling, and finishing abilities. The Nacogdoches, TX, native finished his career with 25 goals and 14 assists in 71 games and was an MLS Best XI selection in 2005 and 2006. Naturally, his performances did not go unnoticed. In January 2007,  Fulham paid a then-MLS record $4 million transfer fee for Dempsey’s services.

Jose Cancela (2003-2006)

Cancela, along with Dempsey, Joseph, and Ralston, formed the core of what was the Revolution’s most dominant midfield in 2005. The Uruguayan midfielder arrived at the Revs from Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa midseason in 2003 and immediately worked his way into the starting line-up thanks to his creativity and impressive vision. Despite his limited playing time (13 games) that season, Cancela would finish tied for the team lead in assists with seven. The following season, Cancela took sole possession of the team assist lead with 10 helpers in 25 matches. Though Dempsey’s emergence eventually saw Cancela’s playing time wane, the inspired set-up man had 27 assists and 6 goals in his time with the Revs, and added another goal and four assists in the playoffs. Cancela’s time at the Revs ended when was selected by Toronto in the 2006 Expansion Draft and traded to Colorado before the start of the season.

(sub) Leonel Alvarez (1999-2001)

Colombian midfielder Leonel Alvarez may have arrived with Revs in his mid-thirties, but that did little to stop him from having a huge impact on the team. Alvarez arrived from the Dallas in a trade near the end of the 1999 season and quickly claimed a starting role. Known for his physical defending, Alvarez proved to be a leader as a defensive mid, breaking up plays and distributing to start inspired counterattacks. Alvarez tallied two goals and four assists before his Revolution career ended when the team failed to renew his contract prior to the 2002 season.

(sub) Andy Dorman (2004-2007)

Taken with the 58th pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, not much was expected out of the lanky Welshman before he turned into a key player for the club. Dorman only managed 365 minutes in his rookie season, but ended up leading the Revolution in games played in each of his final two seasons with the team. Dorman proved an excellent central midfielder for the Revs, adding another dangerous weapon to the Revs attack thanks to his versatility by playing nearly everywhere on the pitch but between the posts. Dorman led the Revs with 10 assists, along with 6 goals in 2006 and would finish his career with 17 goals and 18 assists in 112 games (80 starts) before going overseas to St. Mirren’s of the Scottish Premier League in 2008.

Also receiving votes: Jeff Larentowicz (2005-2009), Edwin Gorter (1998-1999), Brian Kamler (2002-2004), Imad Baba (1996-2000), and Daniel Hernandez (2002-2003, 2005-2006)


Voting breakdown: Star strikers Joe-Max Moore and Taylor Twellman were both unanimous choices as starters, while Pat Noonan appeared as a sub on every ballot. Wolde Harris narrowly edged out Alberto Naveda for the final spot on the bench. Raul Diaz Arce, who scored 18 goals in 1998, and 2010 MVP Marko Perovic both received a vote each.

Joe-Max Moore (1996-1999, 2003-2004)

Moore was another face of the franchise for many of its early years after joining the team from Germany’s FC Nuremberg. The former National Team striker was the all-time leader for the Revs in both goals and assists, until those records were eclipsed by Twellman and Ralston, respectively. Moore led the team in scoring in 1996 and 1999, amassing a total of 41 goals and 35 assists over his 96 game Revolution career. He was also tops in assists in 1998, 1999 and 2003. He was named the Revs MVP in 1996, 1998, and 1999. Between stints with the Revs, Moore had a successful spell with Everton of the English Premier League. He’s currently fourth all-time for the U.S. with 24 goals in 100 international appearances and played in the 1994, 1998, and 2002 World Cups.  Moore retired after an injury-plagued 2004 season.

Taylor Twellman (2002-2010)


Twellman was the face of the franchise in the 2000s. (Photo by Art Donahue/

The deadliest finisher, not to mention one of the most recognizable figures in Revolution lore,. The only thing that kept Twellman from smashing league scoring records was succession of health issues that forced him to retire this year at age 30.  The former Maryland Terrapin was selected by the Revs with the second pick of the 2002 SuperDraft after leaving Germany’s 1860 Munich, and quickly earned him a starting role in his first season as he went on to tally an amazing 23 goals. Those goals, along with his six assists, made him the MLS scoring champion as a rookie. Twellman would further cement his reputation by leading the team in scoring again in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 en route to  a jaw-dropping 101 career regular season goals in 174 games with the Revs. He was named league MVP in 2005 and his 17 goals also gave him the MLS Golden Boot. His play-off performances were equally impressive, with 10 goals in 21 appearances. Twellman led the team to four MLS Cup Finals and his goal total puts him atop the all-time Revs list by a whopping 59 goal margin.

(sub) Pat Noonan (2003-2007)

Noonan proved to be a perfect complement to Twellman during his time in New England. As the ninth overall pick in the 2003 SuperDraft, Noonan led the team with 11 goals and eight assists, good enough to claim a share of the MLS Scoring Champion title along with Amado Guevara in 2004. The St. Louis native, who was also happened to be childhood friend of strike partner Taylor Twellman, would finish his time at the Revs with 37 goals and 29 assists in 119 games and contributed 5 playoff goals in 16 games before leaving the club for Norway’s Aakesunds FK. He would go on to win an MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew upon his return to MLS in 2008. He currently plays for the Seattle Sounders.

(sub) Wolde Harris (2000-2003)

While Harris may have never put up the numbers of Twellman or Moore, the Jamaican international led the Revs attack in the early part of the decade.  Harris, acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rapids, finished his first season in New England as the team’s scoring champion and MVP. He completed his Revolution career with 24 goals and 14 assists and currently ranks fifth all-time on the team behind Twellman, Moore, Dempsey and Noonan with a scoring rate of .26 goals per game. He also helped the team to their first playoff appearance in three years in 2000 and scored two goals and three assists in 10 postseason starts for the Revs. Harris was traded to the Wizards midway through the 2003 season.

Also receiving votes: Alberto Naveda (1996-1997), Raul Diaz Arce (1998), and Marko Perovic (2010-Present)


Steve Nicol

Is there any other coach more deserving? While the coaching position wasn’t on our ballot (aside from a Jim Dow write-in), it’s hard to imagine making an argument for any coach not named Steve Nicol. Since former Liverpool player took over the Revs in 2002, the team has been to four MLS Cup Finals (2002, 2005, 2006, & 2007) and has also claimed U.S. Open Cup (2007) and SuperLiga (2008) trophies. Under his guidance, the Revs went from a struggling side to one that has reached the postseason in all but one of his nine years at the helm.

What do you think? Did we miss anyone who deserved a spot? Should any players have been left off? Leave your comments below.


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