FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Following the conclusion of the Revolution’s first preseason training session on Saturday, captain Jose Goncalves made no apologies for the contentious comments he made during an interview he gave earlier this week.
Goncalves, who had the purchase option of his loan deal from FC Sion exercised by the Revolution in November, told the blog A Minute in Sports! that the front office did not honor certain promises relating to his contract.
But on Saturday, Goncalves declined to go into detail about whatever slights he felt from the front office, or what the club can do to put his mind at ease.
“I don’t really need to say (what) kinds of promises have been made,” Goncalves said. “I think it’s something that stays between me and the club. Of course, they know exactly what I am talking about. It’s a situation we tried, in the past, to find a solution (to).”
It is believed that the promises the Portuguese center back is citing surround his ability – or lack thereof – to renegotiate the salary figure that was triggered when the Revolution exercised the purchase option.
The agreement contained a fixed-price salary that was negotiated in advance. The price, which was agreed to by all parties, was based on the a number of factors, including Goncalves’ playing time at Sion (2011-12) and St. Gallen (2011), where a knee injury limited to 22 games during the two seasons leading up to the loan.
But even though Goncalves originally agreed to the price, he believes that earning Defender of the Year honors and playing every minute of every game last season should allow him to renegotiate his salary.
“It’s very important that I feel that I am welcome here,” Goncalves said. “I am worth it, what I am doing on the field, and also outside the field. That’s something I take very personally, and it’s very important as a player, and as the captain of the club, to feel that.”
According to the MLS Players Union, the Revolution contributed $104,000 to Goncalves’ total salary, which was supplemented by FC Sion. The amount contributed by the Swiss club has not been disclosed. By comparison, Sporting Kansas City center back Matt Besler and Los Angeles Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez, who finished second and third in the 2013 Defender of the Year vote, earned $180,000 and $282,000, respectively.
Besler saw a significant jump in salary after he earned Defender of the Year honors in 2012. After earning $91,700 in 2012, his salary nearly doubled to $180,000 in 2013.
In August, Gonzalez signed a designated player deal with the Galaxy that made him the richest center back in league history and will reportedly earn $1.5 million in 2014. The salary figures for the 2014 season have not yet been released by the union, and Gonclaves’ salary hasn’t been revealed.
On Friday, Revolution general manager Michael Burns acknowledged the situation, but didn’t go into specifics about how the cub will address the situation.
“We’re aware of the interview Jose conducted, and want to stress that he’s a valuable member of the Revolution,” Burns said in an e-mail. “Jose is under contract with MLS and New England for multiple years, but having said that, we’ll continue to have dialogue with his representative regarding his contract.”
Burns was not seen at the Dana Farber Fieldhouse during Saturday’s training season.
It is believed that Goncalves is seeking a deal similar to that of MLS Newcomer of the Year Diego Valeri. The Portland midfielder signed a designated player contract worth $400,000 after the purchase option on his loan from Argentinean side Lanus was exercised by the Timbers. Goncalves finished second to Valeri in the Newcomer of the Year vote.
In essence, Goncalves wants the ability to negotiate a salary commensurate with his contributions – contributions that helped the Revolution reach the postseason for the first time in four years.
“It (would) give me a lot of power to continue and give the best I can to help the club,” Goncalves said. “So that’s why I said that, and this is something I felt in the last few months.”
Despite the distraction, Revolution coach Jay Heaps says he’s unfazed by Goncalves’ unhappiness with his contract.
“You read those things and sometimes it’s a part of the game, unfortunately,” Heaps said. “I’m not going to comment on the situation other than to say, ‘Look, those things happen,’ but we have to move forward and we’re on to the next day and the next session.”
As for Goncalves, he won’t allow the contract impasse affect his efforts during the preseason.
“I am here and I am training with the team, and when I am on the field I am very professional, I give my best, 100 percent, and what happens off the field, (stays) off the field,” Goncalves said. “I always bring to the training ground my (complete) focus, because there are teammates who are here to work hard and I always want to do the same and not mess up the training because I am not feeling very well (about the contract situation).”
Goncalves also confirmed that he would like to return to Europe – where he “always has a good feeling because things are much easier”– at some point, but not “today or tomorrow.”
“Europe has always been (a goal of) my career,” Goncalves said. “I played there most of my career, my family is there, friends, and I know the league. I have a lot of goals in my career, like playing in the (Portuguese) National Team, and this is one of my biggest goals, and of course you have to have success in the club (first). This is something I was always thinking about, and we will see what happens.”
For now, though, Goncalves is unsure about whether he will be able to reach a resolution with the Revolution. He said he hasn’t spoken to Burns at length about it yet, but hopes to soon.
“I think that, in the next few days, we will sit down and discuss the situation,” Goncalves said. “But for now, I think that the most important thing is that the group gets back in training. When we find a time to speak about this, then we will do it.”