By CARL SETTERLUND
After forgettable stints at Chivas USA and with the Seattle Sounders, New England Revolution legend Shalrie Joseph has rejoined the club where his name is still gold.
The player his teammates affectionately call “Chaz” did a trial with New England back in February and was claimed off waivers by the Revs on Tuesday afternoon, sending the 12th-year MLS veteran back to the club he called home for his first 9-1/2 seasons.
“Once the offseason was done and Seattle was no more an option, my first inclination was to come here and have a conversation with (Revolution coach Jay Heaps) and the guys in charge,” said Joseph, who will take back his old number (21) and locker. “Finally, it worked out to where I’m happy and I’m glad to be back again.”
After having his Designated Player contract bought out by the by the Sounders in March, the 35-year-old Grenadian (soon to be 36 in May) was stuck in limbo due to what Heaps termed as “mechanisms within the league,” despite interest from the Revolution.
“Some days it was frustrating,” Joseph said. “I knew where I wanted to play, and if that wasn’t possible then I probably would have thought about hanging it up.”
Although financial details of Joseph’s contract were not released, Heaps inferred that New England was able to sign the eight-time MLS All-Star at a reasonable price tag.
“Having him back is really good because he carries a lot of the history of the club,” Heaps said. “Not only that, it all fit together nicely with the (salary) cap, and kind of how it worked out with Seattle settling and figuring a way, and us getting him in a very good place for us in a cap situation.”
Although diminished from his previous stature and currently not yet at full fitness, Joseph should eventually provide depth both at defensive midfield and further cover at center back should Jose Goncalves miss an extended period with his right quad injury. (Heaps had no update on Goncalves, who went down two weeks ago against Houston.)
While it’s uncertain when Joseph will get back into game action, Heaps said he envisions Joseph as a depth player or someone to “finish off a game.”
Joseph was abruptly traded in August 2012 after his play began to decline and it appeared he wasn’t yet ready to accept the transition into a supporting role.
Heaps defended the trade on Wednesday, saying it was the right move for the team at the time, while Joseph said he’s “a lot more mature” now than when he was last a member of the team.
“I know what it takes to make it in this league and it’s a young group in there,” Joseph said. “I’m going to make sure to push each and every one of them to practice hard, work hard and just do everything to help the team.”
One former mentee, 19-year-old midfielder Diego Fagundez, now in his fourth season, said he was excited to have Joseph back in the fold.
“He’s a veteran that can show a lot of the young guys a lot of stuff,” said Fagundez, who was taken under Joseph’s wing early in his career. “He’s a good guy, so it’s nice to have him around the locker room, and you can tell he’s passionate and he wants to win.
DORMAN DONS CAPTAIN’S ARMBAND FOR FIRST TIME
With regular captain Jose Goncalves ruled out for last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Chicago, and fill-in Chris Tierney coming off the bench, holding midfielder Andy Dorman was Jay Heaps’ choice to serve as team captain for the first time in his Revolution career.
“I think on the team the good thing is we’ve got a lot of guys that are vocal and a lot of leaders,” Dorman said. “Obviously, we’re missing Jose and he’s a big part of that. He’s the leader of the team and when that happens other guys have got to step up.”
The 31-year-old Welsh international has made the most of his second stint in New England, emerging as a contributor during last season’s playoff push and carrying over his good form into 2013, starting in six of the Revs’ seven games so far.
“He’s done well over the last – even the end of last year and the last games we had in terms of how he’s played, but also getting the guys to play together,” Heaps said.
Previously more of an attack-minded player, Dorman was a regular for New England from 2004 through 2007 before trying his luck in the Scottish Premier League (St. Mirren), Football League Championship (Crystal Palace), and Football League Two (Bristol Rovers).
“The game is definitely different here than it is in Europe, and it’s changed a lot since I was here before,” Dorman said. “The first year was a bit of a changeover, but this season, getting a good preseason under my belt and getting a chance to work with (Revs strength and conditioning coach) Nick Downing over the offseason helped a lot.”
Dorman was previously a teammate of the 37-year-old Heaps during his first go-round with the Revolution.
SLUMPING BUNBURY SET TO FACE FORMER CLUB
If there’s one motivation that never fails, it’s the desire to show your ex that you’re better off without them.
In the case of forward Teal Bunbury, that opportunity will come this weekend as the Revs (2-3-2, 8 points) are set to host his former squad, and current MLS champion, Sporting KC (3-1-2, 11 points) at 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday.
Sporting KC’s decision to trade Bunbury for allocation money and New England’s first round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft has looked like a shrewd move so far.
Despite playing in every minute of all seven matches, the Revs’ lone striker in their 4-5-1 formation has yet to produce a goal, while his one assist came off a deflected pass.
Expecting Joseph to be a positive addition? Was Dorman the right choice as fill-in captain? Do you see Bunbury finally breaking the ice versus Sporting KC?
Share your thoughts below.