FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Although it was business as usual on the indoor training pitch inside the Dana Farber Fieldhouse on Monday, there was one obvious subplot unfolding in the process.
For the first time since his arrest during the early morning hours of February 20th, Shalrie Joseph was back in the fold training with his teammates. And while it appeared that the Best XI midfielder hadn’t missed a beat, it was impossible to overlook the elephant inside the fieldhouse.
Hoping to push away the massive pachyderm, Joseph spoke with the media for the first time since his arrest and subsequent dismissal from the team’s base of operations in Orlando last week.
“It definitely sheds a negative light on me,” said Joseph, who appeared contrite during his conversation with the media. “I don’t need that. I have an academy, I have clubs, and I have kids that look up to me and I have people very close to me and they look up to me as a role model.”
Naturally, the circumstances regarding the arrest were raised. And Joseph, who is never one to shy away from controversy, had no qualms giving his perspective of what happened in the hours leading up to his arrest.
According to him, the situation started off innocently as he and some of his teammates went out for dinner and drinks. As the night progressed, the group returned to the team hotel. While there was no team curfew in place, Joseph and Alston didn’t intend on staying out late knowing they had training the next morning.
But, before they knew it, the night extended into the early morning hours at room 1206 at the Sheraton Inn. Then, at around 3:30am, the Alston and Joseph found themselves speaking to Orlando Police after a call was placed regarding a noisy party inside the room. The pair were issued written warnings by the officers. Minutes after that, Joseph was arrested for “trespass after warning.”
Once the sun rose, word had traveled to the front office about the incident Alston and Joseph had found themselves in only hours prior. But before Joseph, who was released on $1,000.00 bail, and Alston were given the chance to tell their side of the story, the pair were sent back to Boston. It was a decision that Joseph still takes particular issue with.
“The bad part is that nobody actually knows what happened,” said Joseph. “Not the Revolution coaching staff, nor the people in charge, they never asked me what actually happened. They just immediately gave me and Kevin punishment for something that they don’t even know what exactly happened.”
And while Joseph knows that his actions warranted some sort of punishment or reprimand, he feels that his teammate’s dismissal was unjustified.
Joseph asserted that because Alston was already slated to be sent back to Boston to have his hamstring examined, he was unfairly targeted for dismissal from the team.
“He was coming home regardless (and) nobody knows that,” said Joseph. “But, they all decided that they’ll send home Kevin (also) and that’s not fair to him at all.”
Fair or unfair, Joseph didn’t mince his words regarding the manner in which the front office handled Alston’s situation.
“To punish Kevin for something he didn’t even do is not something that I really approve of,” said Joseph. “I just think it was very wrong the way they treated him.”
Since the dismissals, Joseph maintains that he still hasn’t been given the opportunity to present his side of the story to his superiors, even more than a week after the incident.
“We should have had a dialogue with the Revolution coaches and staff from day one,” said Joseph. “That should have been the first step in the process before they sent me home. But, they still haven’t asked me what happened.”
Despite harboring some clear resentment toward the way the dismissals were handled, Joseph knows that he will have to deal with the consequences in the wake of his arrest. He understands and accepts that his image has been tarnished. But, he is particularly concerned that some may think that he is a reckless person who isn’t worthy of forgiveness.
“I am worried about how people may think I’m a bad guy,” said Joseph. “But, everybody makes mistakes, and I don’t want them to think that I’m such a bad guy.”
It’s been a tough week for one of the toughest players in MLS, to say the least. However, his return to the practice pitch has allowed him a welcome respite from the controversy.
“The good part is that I get back to play and train with the guys,” said Joseph. “They’re all positive and they help put a smile on my face because we all enjoy playing soccer.”
And while he hopes that his teammates’ camaraderie will help him weather the storm, he also knows that, ultimately, it was his own lapse in judgement that put himself in the thick of it.
“I put my personal needs ahead of the team’s needs,” said Joseph. “But, I just have to deal with it and move forward.”