New England Soccer Today

Zerka Not Returning

UPDATE: The Revolution are denying the claims made by the unnamed source in this story.

Monsef Zerka may be the closest the New England Revolution has come to replacing the consistency of Steve Ralston on the wings, but the Moroccan won’t be returning to the team in 2012. New England Soccer Today has learned the 30-year-old winger was never in the team’s plans this season eventually told he was no longer in the team’s plans after the Revs had continued to postpone negotiations over an extended period according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation.

Monsef Zerka tallied two goals and an assist in seven games for the Revs in 2011. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Zerka scored two goals and added an assist in seven games after joining the team on August 18th. His crossing ability and off the ball runs played a key role as the Revs offense began to show some signs of life towards the end of the season. According to the Major League Soccer Players Union, Zerka’s contract guaranteed him $226,000, though it was pro-rated in 2011 due to his late arrival.

The Revolution rejected Zerka’s contract option in November along with Rajko Lekic’s and Milton Caraglio’s, though the team indicated they would try to bring at least a few of the trio back at reduced rates. Caraglio has since signed with C.S.D. Rangers in Chile and Lekic recently joined Danish Superliga side Lyngby Boldklub.

Now fans who were hoping to see Zerka’s return can also stop holding their breath. The 6-foot-0 Orleans, France born versatile player may still be a free agent, but was never part of Heaps’ plans for 2012 the team never entered into serious negotiations after initial offers were exchanged according to the source.

The Revs have struggled mightily to find a reliable presence on the wings since Ralston left the team for the first time after the 2009 season. Sainey Nyassi, Zak Boggs, Kenny Mansally, Kheli Dube and others have all failed to hold down a spot on either flank in the two years since.

Zerka looked to finally be the answer when then head coach Steve Nicol brought added him to the team in August. The winger, who had played at FC Nantes and AS Nancy in France and Iraklis in Greece before joining the Revs, showed poise and consistency making his experience obvious in just seven games with the club. It appeared the Revs had finally found a solution to their problems on at least one of the flanks of the midfield.

But whatever Zerka was owed in 2012 if the team picked up another year of his contract was seemingly too much to the new coaching staff and front office and Zerka saw his option declined in late November. Though there was some thought the Revs would attempt to re-sign the veteran at a lower price, it never materialized as the team never had serious discussions to try to bring Zerka back.

Now Heaps and his coaching staff must address the same problems Nicol thought he finally had with the additions of Caraglio, Lekic and Zerka by the end of last season: a lack of experience and proven quality both up top and on the outside of the midfield.

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