New England Soccer Today

A View From the Fort: Miss Peggy Lee As A Football Pundit, Interviews w/ Caldwell & Tierney

Chris Tierney is the Revolution's MLSPU Player Representative. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Chris Tierney is the Revolution’s MLSPU Player Representative. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Miss Peggy Lee As A Football Pundit + Interviews with Scott Caldwell and Chris Tierney.


One of the best things about going to Revolution training sessions has always been the opportunity to chat with Martha, the friendly woman who generally works the late morning shift at the security hut that guards the entrance to the inner sanctum parking lots at Gillette Stadium.

Jim Dow

Jim Dow

Martha, among other things, is a Revs fan and we generally discuss the last match, sometimes speculating on what players might be coming or going and exchanging banter about life in general. While the length of our exchanges are dictated by traffic flow she is a sunny soul under all conditions, perhaps 180 degrees from the public face often projected at the bastion of Belichik.

When I pulled up last week, Martha informed me that she was bummed about Kalifa Cisse’s leaving. He was, in her words, “one of the good guys.” It turned out that on his way to wherever he might be bound earlier that morning had stopped and gotten out of his car to give her a farewell smooch before disappearing up Rte. 1 to, hopefully, a good contract at a new club, beaten out by a perfect storm of a superlative rookie (Scott Caldwell) and bodily aggressiveness obtained from a different source (Jose Goncalves).

Nonetheless, a good guy and sorry to see him go and in this case it doesn’t seem the signing was a mistake, but a question of cutting losses and moving forward, something clubs all across the world do all the time.

However, unless there are further surprises waiting in the wings there is a fascinating and damning comparison with the Seattle Sounders who asked Shalrie Joseph to take a 70+% pay cut and added Clint Dempsey for a $9 million transfer fee from Tottenham Hotspur with a guaranteed $5,038,567 per annum and the New England Revolution who parted ways with Cisse at some fraction of $369,000 and added Charlie Davies on loan from Randers FC, the cost of that deal likely being funded by the savings on Cisse.

As an interesting sidebar: both players will be performing in front of significantly larger home crowds, Dempsey’s presence may lift the Sounders average to well above their current capped figure of 40,520 compared to Spurs who sell out White Hart Lane to the tune of 36,310. Davies, on the other hand, will trot out in front of Gillette Stadium crowds that currently average 13,545 whereas when he played in the 12K capacity AutoC Park Randers in the Danish Superliga matches drew a normal throng of 5,238.

In one sense these figures say it all; the combination of Joseph’s renouncing of his DP status and accompanying pay cut of some $494,500 allowed the Seattle ownership to fork out a significant portion of the $14,038,567 transfer fee/salary package less the $368,750 part of the league-wide Cap Base contribution. Of course, these are somewhat funny money figures as perhaps a large portion of the cash came from a central MLS pot buried in the vault at league HQ. A sobering sidebar here, possibly hallucinatory; given that most league expenditures are commonly shared there is the specter of the Revs ownership having put in 1/19th of the whatever funding came through the New York office – just a thought from a well of self-pity (see the Peggy Lee reference below).

Certainly the relative figures for compensation will have been adjusted for the fact that the deal took place after mid-season. But with all that the outlay on the Seattle’s part could top $10 million for this year.

Charlie Davies was making around $200,000 when he last played in MLS in 2011 and likely his salary has stayed around that level as he moved from DC to Sochaux and then Randers and now lent to the Revolution. While the details of his deal have not been revealed, it is reasonable to assume that whatever cost can be covered by the remnants of Cisse’s salary or, to put it in perspective, something around one-fiftieth of what Seattle spent to secure the Deuce.

None of this is written with any disrespect to the various paying and playing parties involved. Davies deserves a chance to prove himself in circumstances that may be far more supportive than anything he has experienced since the horrific car accident in 2009 and for the Revs to bring him home to try to re-establish himself as a top-level goal scorer makes perfect sense in view of New England’s now collective inability to convert any kind of service.

But at the same time, to paraphrase the bittersweet Lieber and Stoller lounge lizard 1969 classic, “Is That All There Is?” made famous by Miss Peggy Lee, the multi-talented pop and jazz vocalist. While the question itself is painful to contemplate given the Revolution’s needs at this point in the campaign, the overall interpretation that the song interrogates takes the point of view of a disillusioned existentialist who has experienced disappointment at every turn. The answer provided in the lyrics is “to break out the booze and have a ball,” since expecting much of anything positive from anything can only lead to more delusion and despair.

Mind you, there is time to add an unaffiliated player or to secure the services of someone useful through trade. But thus far, in the summer transfer window period MLS teams, save Columbus, Salt Lake and Vancouver, have, in addition to Charlie Davies and Clint Dempse, added Jaime Alas, Jean-Louis Anangono, Arevalo Rios, Hernan Bernardello, Carlos Bocanegra, David Carney, Paolo Del Piccolo, Mauricio Diaz, Connor Doyle, Jonas Elmer, Erick, Fabinho, Jaime Frias, Gilberto, Jared Jeffrey, Adrian Lopez, Alex Lopez, Jimmy Medrana, Oka Nikolov, Jaime Penedo, Alvis Powell, Alvaro Rey, Brendan Ruiz, Vincente Sanchez, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jordan Stewart, Erick Torres, Gabriel Torres and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Without question some of these players will make no splash at all, others will be just serviceable, and a few may turn the trick to boost their team’s fortunes as the playoffs loom. Movement simply for the sake of movement accomplishes little, but with the Revolution’s current run of form there needs to be more movement than there has been, specifically additions in addition to subtractions to help this young group in the slog ahead.

In some cases, teams have added three different players; New England has added one, and while the final roster deadline isn’t until September, Miss Peggy Lee suspects that that is all there is and, in terms of ambition to bolster the team for the playoff run, well, in the spirit of “break out the booze and have a ball,” the designer beers at the stadium are eleven dollars a pop with six home matches to go in the remaining eleven games.

With the Dempsey transfer in mind, I set out for Gillette Stadium to speak with bookend players about the situation. Scott Caldwell, a product of the Academy, team has officially seen off an ex-Premier League player and while there isn’t a hint of overconfidence or bravado in his persona, his views on things reflect a mature self-awareness.

JIM – What I’d like to ask you is about your impressions now that you are almost two thirds through your rookie professional season, you’ve come to the hometown team, you’ve essentially beaten out a group of established players to win a starting position to the point where your play is part of the trademark of the team; what does it feel like?

SCOTT – You know it is a great feeling to be on the field, everyone wants to play but at this point in the season the most important thing is winning games and that is where our focus is now and mine especially, to do whatever we can to contribute on the field and off the field to win games. But it has been good so far and we just have to pick it up.

JIM – So at this point, with preseason and all, you have officially played more games than ever before, you are at the 22nd, 23rd league game; is there a wall approaching, have you talked about that at all in terms of the length of the season from this point on?

SCOTT – Yes, it is a longer season than I’m used to and coaches have brought that up, how a lot of rookies hit a wall. I think right now you take it a game at a time, if you do that and you aren’t thinking about the length of the season, you are just focusing on each day in practice, each game coming up then you can kind of be short minded and…I’m hoping it won’t effect me at all.

JIM – Chad Barrett said when I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago that one of the hardest things as a young player was to learn that while clearly you want to win and you want to try your hardest and so forth you have to let it go after losing and after you win as well. Do you find this to be true, that you have to adjust your focus to move on effectively?

SCOTT – Yeah, after a game you definitely have to reflect a little bit, to see what you did right, what you did wrong so that you can continue to improve and get better each and every day. But, just like you said, the veterans have been really good at that this year, getting it into the young guy’s heads after a tough loss or a big win, one or the other, you can’t dwell on that or you can’t get too excited about it because the next game is just as important. So the veterans have been really good, Chad especially, making sure that we have been doing that and it definitely works, it’s smart to do that, so you are not getting too confident or too down on yourself.

JIM – As you move around the league now you are facing players for the second and soon in some cases, the third time. Has that changed anything for you, when you play against the same person you were playing before?

SCOTT – You know sometimes it is easier to prepare because you are used to playing (against) them and what not but at the same time some teams are throwing out different lineups. It’s a long season, so like us, there are changing rosters and guys come on and off the field. It does help preparation a little bit and kind of being comfortable knowing what each person does on the field but you have to prepare for it just like any other game.

JIM – I’m going to compare you to a player that I’m not certain you will know, Fernando Redondo, do you recall him?

SCOTT – I’m not sure…

JIM – Fernando Redondo played for Argentina and Real Madrid and he played your position, the number six and like you, he had the ability to sense pressure. What I’ve noticed is that for a young player you have this same skill and are able to turn quickly and maintain possession. Have you always been able to do this or is that something that you have trained for?

SCOTT – It is definitely something that I try to work on every day and it is still something I need to get a lot better at because there are times when I lose the ball it is typically because I wasn’t aware or that my first touch was poor in relation to where my body is and where a defender is. But it is something that in my four years of college at Akron with Caleb (Porter, now coach of the MLS Portland Timbers) and the assistant coaches there, Jared (Embick) and Oliver (Slawson), we worked on that a lot. It is key to keeping possession and keeping the ball moving so it is something that I really try each and every day, taking a peek over my shoulder as the ball is coming to me, so that I know where the defender is, I think that is really important.

JIM – You really do play a kind of fulcrum position in Jay Heaps’s formations, in that first you get the ball, maintain possession against pressure and then distribute it in useful ways to the other players going forward and that is something that this team hasn’t had for a while. You aren’t the size of Shalrie Joseph, or Redondo for that matter but you are playing that sort of possession position, is that fair to say?

SCOTT – Yes, definitely, it is something that I’m trying to get better at as well and also to get better defensively, because of my size I still have to get better at that.

JIM – How does turf affect you as a player?

SCOTT – You know it shouldn’t have that much of an effect. Obviously, a nice grass field is a dream to play on, a perfect grass surface but turf’s not bad, especially as it is our home field, I kind of think we can use that as an advantage if guys aren’t used to it coming into here. So we get to see it once a week, (sometimes) more than that and we get to become used to it.

JIM – As a young player from the States suddenly you have a fellow US player in Clint Dempsey signing an MLB, NBA, NFL-level contract. How do you react to that?

SCOTT – Well, it came as a surprise but I think it is tremendous for the league and for American players in general, just seeing that and how Dempsey has done it, coming from here (with the Revolution) and then succeeding over there (in England) and wanting to come back, that’s huge and it speaks volumes for the league and how far it has come.


Later I had the opportunity to speak quickly with Chris Tierney, another “homegrown” player, albeit pre-Academy, in the wake of signing his own contract extension to get his perspective on the monster transfer.

JIM – I’m interested in your views on the Clint Dempsey signing because you wear multiple hats as a now veteran player with a new contract, as well as being a Player’s Union Representative.

CHRIS – I think it’s great. It is a very important signing for the league. Obviously having a player of his profile and experience in his prime coming back, it’s only a good thing for the league and I think that…they are taking the necessary steps to move deals forward that they feel are going to help the league out. You see what they did with the Designated Player Rule in bringing over David Beckham and (while) I think there have been a lot of calls for transparency (in the Dempsey signing), I think there are a lot of people demanding to know the details of the deal, but that is information that we (in the Player’s Union) haven’t been privy to any more than anyone else.

All in all I think it is a good signing for the league and for the Sounders, having players of this profile in the league is only going to help us, especially going into the negotiation year for our Collective Bargaining Agreement which expires at the end of this season.

JIM – Which brings me to the second part of the question. I remember when Jay Heaps was the Player’s Representative for the Revs and just imagining sitting across the table from him in a negotiation given his intelligence and competitiveness; going forward for next year how do you think this will effect things like the base salaries across the league?

CHRIS – I think it is going to affect a lot of (aspects) of the negotiations. With the league spending the money that they have and bringing in players like this shows that the financial stability of the league is growing, there is more money in that league pot than there was when we negotiated five years ago, so it is only a good thing from our viewpoint and I think it shows the league’s willingness to spend money… it shows they do have money to spend when they are willing to spend it and that can only be a good thing for the players moving forward.

JIM – In relationship to that, one thing that it is ultimately going to bring up is that in the future there will be different clubs with different levels of resources. Somebody made a calculation that the combination of Dempsey and a winning team might add as much as 10,000 people to the Sounders per match attendance and that figure, spread over a 17 game season would pay for his contract. I don’t know if that is even remotely near the truth but I’m wondering how your thinking as a player, essentially a self-employed, highly skilled worker who regularly renegotiates his pay packet in an increasingly free market situation, do you see de-regulation in the long term as best for the future of MLS?

CHRIS – I think the less regulation you have the better it is going to be for the players. I mean you look around world soccer and how things are structured…and the players are making significantly higher salaries so you have these owners that have the money and are willing to pay out of pocket. I think that (the) single entity sort of setup is going to be a thing of the past. You are going to have owners that come into this league that are going to be willing and able to spend money to pay compensation to their players and to bring in higher profile, better, more experienced sorts of players. It will be a good thing for the growth of this league, so I think it is all positive and moving in the right direction.

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