FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes was just the latest addition to a season of disappointments for the New England Revolution. Unsurprisingly, the mood in the locker room after the game was one of frustration.
Perhaps the most disheartened of them all was Captain Shalrie Joseph, the veteran midfielder who helped lead the team to three MLS Cup finals between 2005 and 2007.
“The first couple of years of my years here we got to the final so many times and it was sweet,” said Joseph. “It was hard work, it was putting it in and we definitely got rewarded.”
On those successful teams Joseph was aided by experienced stars such as Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman, but now the burden of carrying the team falls on Joseph. With an inexperienced squad, the team has progressively gotten worse over the past three seasons and will miss out on the playoffs for the second year in a row, the first two times the Revs haven’t been in the postseason since Joseph joined the club in 2011.
“We’ve got a lot of immaturity, we’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys and at the end of the day we’re just not good enough to be one of those teams that people talk about,” said Joseph. “We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror, make the changes necessary in the offseason and come back and turn things around.”
Joseph suggested the addition of one or two players and improvement from the current group would be enough to get to the playoffs in 2012. With his contract expiring this offseason, it’s unclear if Joseph will be a part of that squad.
Of course in New England, even making the playoffs isn’t enough to become part of the sports conversation these days.
“This is a championship town and if we can’t be one of those teams, we can’t be one of those sports teams people talk [then] there’s no point for me to be here,” said Joseph. “I’m the team leader, I’m the team captain and it’s frustrating that people look upon me and I like the leadership role, [but] I need to carry more, I need to do more to get the team into playing into better shape… right now we’re just not that team that people want to talk about that people want to watch.”
A small crowd, reported at 9,111, showed up to watch the Revs’ latest loss, but it was noticeably quieter than many games this year.
“The fans don’t come out and support which is our fault because we don’t produce enough or we don’t put enough players out there that are exciting or good enough for them to come out and support,” said Joseph. “That’s our fault for not winning games to have support. You could hear a pin drop tonight and it’s frustrating playing in front of a dead stadium, playing in front of people not supporting you and it takes a toll.
“It’s definitely frustrating in terms of being out there; another loss at home,” he added. “I mean what can I say? It’s just frustrating being a part of this right now.”
The Revs go into their final two games needing to win both just to avoid the first season in team history in which the team has failed to win at least seven games. The team currently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, four points behind eighth place Toronto FC. Only the Vancouver Whitecaps are behind the Revs in the overall standings and they sit just two points back with a game in hand.
“This franchise deserves better, these fans deserve better,” said Joseph. “What we’re giving them tonight, what we’re giving them this season is something that’s lackluster and they don’t deserve that.”