FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Revolution general manager Michael Burns will be the first to tell you that he’s got a young team on his hands. A team that, in many respects, is coming into its own right before his eyes.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a grizzled veteran on the roster, which currently has two vacancies. Especially if that veteran happens to be none other than Shalrie Joseph.
Joseph, the former captain who returned to the team on trial during the preseason, has continued to train in Foxboro during the past few weeks in the hopes of landing what could be the final contract of the 35-year-old’s career.
“Shalrie’s been great,” Burns told the media prior to Saturday’s home opener. “I give Shalrie a lot of credit for him to come back here and be willing to go on trial. (It) says a lot about him, says a lot about his character, because that’s not easy for an older player with his resume to come in and say ‘OK, I’m going to show you what I can and can’t do.’”
That’s far cry from the situation that led to Joseph being jettisoned two summers ago. After clashing with coach Jay Heaps – something Joseph later admitted to - the Revolution traded him to Chivas USA, a move that was met with shock and despair by many supporters.
But two years later, after unproductive stints with the Goats (2012) and Sounders (2013), Burns believes that Joseph’s perspective has changed. No longer is he the Best XI holding midfielder that terrorized opponents and stabilized the Revolution attack.
In fact, Burns believes that the Grenadian midfielder is coming to grips with the realization that he’s approaching the twilight of his career, and has humbled himself in order to get one last chance.
“He clearly knows that he’s closer to the end line than the starting line,” said Burns.
According to both Burns and Heaps, Joseph has been nothing but a model citizen since rejoining his old side. He’s been seen interacting with former teammates and putting in extra work after training to show that the opportunity before him is something he intends to seize.
Of course, before an offer can be made, Burns acknowledged that there would have to be dialogue with the league first. Although Joseph was released from his contract with the Sounders last month, Burns alluded to the idea that adding the former skipper to the roster won’t be as simple as him signing on the dotted line.
“Obviously, there is no free agency in MLS,” Burns said. “Although he’s not with Seattle, there’s not a 100 percent guarantee that, even if we wanted to sign him, he would end up in New England. So we have to work that though with the league.”
Whatever mechanisms may be need to be worked through for a potential return, Burns said that a decision on whether to bring Joseph back isn’t far off.
“We’re going to make a decision in the next week or so on whether we’re going to decide to offer him something to have him remain here or not,” said Burns. “We’re trying to get a couple of more pieces (with) some leadership and some experience, so (with) Shalrie, it would be more all-encompassing in terms of what we think and not only what we hope he can do on the field, but what we think he can provide in the locker room, because that’s really important to us.”