New England Soccer Today

Staying With the Ship

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Nobody would have faulted Shalrie Joseph for packing his boots and playing for Grenada during CONCACAF Gold Cup competition this month, even in light of his club’s current struggles.

And that’s exactly what Joseph was prepared to do when he got the call last week for the national team action. After all, when given the choice, players often opt for country over club when it comes to international tournaments.

But after weighing his priorities, Joseph announced on Tuesday that he would not be joining his fellow Grenadian teammates for the Gold Cup so that he could remain with the reeling Revolution during a crucial stretch of the club’s season.

“It was a tough decision,” Joseph told’s Jeff Lemieux after Wednesday morning’s training. “In terms of priorities, I had to figure out what was more important to me.”

Initially, Joseph, a shoe-in for any call up to his native Grenada given his MLS credentials, gladly accepted the invitation when Gold Cup rosters were announced last week.

But shortly after the announcement, the situation in Foxborough changed drastically. 

Over the weekend, fellow midfielder Benny Feilhaber injured his right ankle late in Saturday’s match against the Galaxy. That, combined with the club’s lagging attack, likely influenced Joseph to do what he’s always done since putting on the captain’s armband:  shoulder the burden and put the team ahead of himself.

“Being along with my (Revolution) teammates,” said Joseph. “Is more imporant for me for the next couple of weeks than going back and representing my country.”

That level of dedication to his club – to bypass the honor of wearing his country’s colors and stay behind with a club that’s still searching for its attacking identity – was welcome news to his teammates, who will be embarking on a challenging, two-match road set begining this weekend against a pair of streaking MLS sides: FC Dallas and New York.

“It shows his commitment to this club,” said fellow midfielder Pat Phelan, who’s played alongside Joseph in the central midfield since 2008. “I think with Benny being gone, it’s still going to be a tough job. But without those two, we’d struggle for sure.”

While Feilhaber’s injury may have played a role in the skipper’s final decision to stay, there’s little to suggest that Joseph wouldn’t have stuck around anway, especially after Saturday night’s 1-0 heartbreaker against the Galaxy.

“He’ll do whatever he can to help this club,” said Phelan. “We’re struggling and we need him on the field.”

Nevertheless, the choice of club over country is often a complex, and ultimately, personal decision based upon a player’s priorities.

And in light of his decision to stick around for when the going gets tough during these next two weeks, it’s clear that helping his club climb back into contention was priority number one for the captain.

“The boys understand what I had to do,” said Joseph. “The decision was mine and I made it. I need to stay here and be the captain of this team and provide the leadership (that) this team needs.”

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