FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One week after waiving first-year players Alan Koger, Otto Loewy and Andrew Sousa, the New England Revolution continued to overhaul its roster on Wednesday with the announcement that the club has declined contract options on veterans Ryan Cochrane, Kheli Dube and Pat Phelan. All three will be eligible for the Re-Entry Process, which begins on Monday, Dec. 5.
Additionally, the Revs have also declined an option to purchase the contract of central defender Franco Coria, who was on loan from Argentina’s Chacarita Juniors last season.
A host of moves were expected following a second consecutive disappointing season in which the Revs finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and set a club record for fewest wins (5) in a season. Head coach Jay Heaps has since been installed to replace former boss Steve Nicol.
“Some of the decisions we’ve already made haven’t been easy – they never are,” said General Manager Michael Burns. “But we’re all in agreement and know that we need to make some changes in order to get better next year.”
According to Burns, the decision to decline options on Cochrane, Dube and Phelan hinged on the trio’s guaranteed contract status under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Declining their options provides not only roster spots but also budget space as the Revolution looks to add fresh talent in the coming weeks and months.
“With us wanting to make a lot of changes for next year, we had to take a real hard look at our roster,” said Burns. “We just felt that in the cases of Ryan, Pat and Kheli, to have to guarantee those contracts on December 1 of 2011 for all of 2012 just didn’t make a lot of sense for us as a team and as an organization right now.
“Obviously all three of those guys – Ryan had only been with us a year, but the other two had been with us for a long time – we certainly wouldn’t rule out them ever returning,” he added. “But we just weren’t prepared to guarantee them right now going forward.”
Coria isn’t eligible for the Re-Entry Process because of his inexperience (one year) within the league, but likewise the Argentine defender won’t be returning to New England next season. With his loan deal set to expire, the Revs had the chance to purchase Coria’s contract outright, but declined that option.
An opening day starter on the Revolution’s backline, Coria made 18 appearances (14 starts) in 2011 but was part of a defensive unit which conceded 58 goals, second-worst in the league ahead of only Toronto FC (59).
“There was a fairly expensive purchase price to transfer him here permanently, so we declined that transfer price,” Burns said. “As of January 1, he’ll be a free player and able to sign with whichever team he’d like.”
With seven players departing in the past week, the Revs now begin the process of strengthening their roster ahead of the 2012 campaign. Starting goalkeeper Matt Reis signed a new contract with the Revolution on Thursday morning, while the club has said it’s optimistic a deal will be reached with captain Shalrie Joseph in the near future.
The Revs have also declined contract options on Rajko Lekic and Monsef Zerka, while they’ve declined the option to purchase on-loan forward Milton Caraglio’s contract on a permanent basis from Argentine club Rosario Central. However, the Revs remain in talks with all three in the hopes that more beneficial agreements can be reached.
Burns and Heaps will be scouting players in Central and South America this weekend as they continue their quest to fortify the Revolution’s roster. In the meantime, New England could opt to add reinforcements through the Re-Entry Process, a mechanism which saw the club acquire Cochrane and the rights to Fred last season. The Revs have the second overall pick in both stages.
“If last year’s any indication, you’d think that [Stage 1] will certainly be a little quieter than [Stage 2],” said Burns. “But you have to be prepared. Hopefully if you can strengthen your team a little bit with one or two or three guys – whatever it may be – in the Re-Entry Draft, it’s an opportunity to get some guys with MLS experience.”