Joseph absent as Revs kick off preseason

New England looking to rebound from disappointing 2010

Best of 2010: Shalrie Joseph

Photo Credit: 
Keith Nordstrom

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After taking a few months off to stew
over missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001, the New England
Revolution returned to the practice field on Monday to start their quest to
rectify the situation in 2011.

Absent was Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph, who missed the
first training session for unknown reasons. Coach Steve Nicol said he expects
Joseph – who did not notify team officials of his impending absence prior to
the start of practice – to attend training on Tuesday morning.

The disappointment of 2010, Joseph’s absence and the presence of
several new faces in the squad made for a different scenario than years past,
but the tone of the first practice of the season did not depart significantly
from previous campaigns, according to Nicol.

“The first day of every year is the same,” Nicol told
MLSsoccer.com. “We can't wait to get at it, whether [last year was] a good, a
bad year or an indifferent year.”

New England will channel their excess energy toward strength
and conditioning exercises for the opening week of training camp. Focus on ball
work and tactical shape will enter the equation later as the Revs prepare for
excursions to Orlando (Feb. 14-24) and Kennesaw, Ga. (March 3-13), but the present
brief requires players to acquaint themselves with the raft of new signings and
restore their fitness.

“We want to get to know everybody else and learn everybody's
tendencies,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes said. “Guys have different
styles of play. You see that all the time throughout MLS. Guys come in and they
bring their own style. You want to incorporate that into the system we play.”

The pieces for the system are still falling into place. Along
with Joseph’s presumptive return, three foreign signings are also in the works
and could join fellow new additions Ryan Cochrane and Didier Domi in the squad
over the next few weeks.

While it isn't essential to have the final squad in place at
this point during preseason, the team will benefit by introducing the new
players as soon as possible, according to Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney.

“The sooner everyone gets in and we have our core together,
the better,” Tierney said. “We have six weeks. We have to take it slow and it's
going to take time. It's very important for us to make an identity in
preseason.”

Nicol won't alter his approach to training camp in the wake
of last year's turbulent season as this Revs side forges its ethos, but he
expects different results as they work through the preseason and prepare for
the upcoming campaign.

“Well, I hope it's different than last year,” Nicol said.
“It better be because we didn't do well.”

Think you know the game? Test your powers of prediction with MLSsoccer.com's fantasy game, Pro Soccer Picks. Play NOW!