BALTIMORE, Md. – The New England Revolution addressed one of its primary needs on Tuesday afternoon, adding a veteran presence to its backline with the capture of French defender Didier Domi.
Domi, 32, has played in many of Europe’s top leagues, including the English Premier League (Newcastle United, Leeds United), Spain’s La Liga (Espanyol) and France’s Ligue 1 (Paris St. Germain). Most recently he spent four years with Greek powerhouse Olympiakos, with whom he participated in the UEFA Champions League.
Reinforcements along the backline became a priority for the Revs after conceding a league-high 50 goals last season. Perhaps most importantly they required an experienced presence following the departure of former U.S. National Team defender Cory Gibbs to the Chicago Fire in the Re-Entry Process.
“Whether you’re playing up front, in midfield or defense, when you can look across (the field) and see somebody of [Domi’s] stature and experience in the game, then obviously it just makes you feel better straightaway,” said head coach Steve Nicol.
Domi, who impressed the Revolution’s technical staff during a training stint in Foxborough last September, won’t officially be added to the club’s roster until he receives his International Transfer Certificate. Although the paperwork can be a time consuming process, the signing was made early enough that the Revs expect Domi to join the team before preseason training camp commences at the end of January.
While Domi’s leadership will be counted on straightaway, the Frenchman’s on-field performance while training with the Revs last September proved the 32-year-old still has plenty left to offer from a pure soccer standpoint.
“Clearly he’s experienced, but at the same time, he’s still got a lot to give,” said Nicol. “I don’t think you can argue that we lacked experience last year. The ability he has, the experience he has – and he wants to play – it made for an easy decision.”
The hope is that Domi will provide stability at left back, a position which the Revs found little consistency at in 2010. Rookie Seth Sinovic led the club with 17 appearances on the left side of defense, although he was one of five players to start a game at that position. Chris Tierney (7), Gibbs (4), Darrius Barnes (1) and Khano Smith (1) were all penciled in as the starting left back at various points last year.
With Gibbs now in Chicago, Sinovic and Tierney became the clear frontrunners for the starting left back role in 2011. However, Domi now likely jumps to the front of that pack, allowing Sinovic to continue his development and the versatile Tierney to focus on his more preferred left midfield role.
Tierney, in fact, recently signed a new deal of his own as reported by the club on Wednesday morning. The 25-year-old proved his value by featuring at a league-high seven different positions in 2010, while his emergence as a leader was evident both on and off the field.
“It sort of came from left field,” said Nicol of Tierney’s rapid maturation and progression. “We didn’t expect him so early in his career to be as important in the locker room and around the team as he’s become. Certainly on the field his game has improved, as well, so he fully deserved a new deal.”