FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Shalrie Joseph will take the field at Gillette Stadium later this month as a member of visiting Chivas USA, but in the eyes of many, he’ll always be part of the New England Revolution family.
Joseph was dealt to Chivas USA on Wednesday, ending a remarkable 10-year run in New England which included eight appearances on the MLS All-Star team, four MLS Best XI selections and a nod as one of three finalists for the league’s MVP award in 2009. Forever etched into the club’s record books. Joseph departs as the Revolution’s all-time leader in appearances (261), starts (254) and minutes played (22,867).
“The guy’s a legend,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, who was Joseph’s teammate from 2003 to 2009. “He’ll always be a legend and he’ll always be a Rev when it’s all said and done.”
News of Joseph’s departure began to trickle down early Wednesday morning with the official announcement made around 10 a.m. ET, shortly after the players had been informed in a team meeting. But some of Joseph’s closest friends and teammates – including fourth-year defender Darrius Barnes – had learned of the trade on Tuesday night.
For Barnes, it was an emotional bit of news which left him to reflect on the monumental influence Joseph had on his progression both on and off the field in the past few years.
“There’s a lot to be said,” Barnes started. “I look up to him like a brother. He’s one of the ones who kind of showed me the ropes when I came in as a rookie and kind of took me under his wing. I feel like it hits me and a couple guys a little more than others just because of our bond and friendship.
“But friendship aside, as a teammate he was top class,” Barnes continued. “Top class player, top class person. I feel like this organization’s definitely going to miss him a bit. But I have faith in the coaches that they did what was best for the club. We just have to take it in stride and go on from here.”
Joseph was an integral part of the Revolution teams which appeared in a record six consecutive Eastern Conference championships and he helped guide the club to three straight MLS Cup appearances between 2005 and 2007. The only current Revolution player who was also part of that run is goalkeeper Matt Reis, who admits it’s difficult to imagine Joseph representing any club but New England.
“It’s going to take a while to get used to,” said Reis. “I always thought we were going to end (our careers) together and go out into the sunset together, but that’s not the way it is and unfortunately that’s part of the business … We’ve had many accomplishments on the field together and it’s something that I’ll look back on fondly. We’ll always have a special bond.”
Not only was Joseph a stalwart in the Revolution’s midfield for almost a decade, but he was also a powerful influence in the locker room, particularly in recent years as he took over the captaincy and the Revs continued to get younger. If you had ears, you always knew when Joseph was around.
“You lose a presence in the midfield and a big personality in the locker room; he’s a great locker room guy,” said Barnes. “You can ask anybody on this team, staff included, how they felt about Shalrie and you won’t get a negative answer. He was just that type of guy and that type of presence in the locker room. His play spoke for itself.”
As the Revs move on without Joseph, they’ll look to fill the significant void left both on and off the field by the departure of one of the club’s all-time greats.
“It does leave a big void, but it’s something that moving forward we’re going to have to deal with,” said Reis. “It’s not insurmountable by any means and it’s something we’re going to have to figure out as a team.”