FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Almost every morning for seven straight years, Clyde Simms suited up at the same stall inside D.C. United’s locker room at RFK Stadium. He practiced on the same training grounds and save for the inevitable roster turnover in professional sports, played alongside many of the same players.
It was familiar. It was comfortable.
Simms has been pulled out of that comfort zone this season, his eighth in Major League Soccer but his first with the New England Revolution after the club picked up his rights in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Process back in December. After establishing himself as a United mainstay during a seven-year stint in the Nation’s Capital, Simms has had to essentially start fresh in Foxborough.
“I got very used to things in D.C.,” said Simms, who had his contract option declined by United after making 182 appearances for the club from 2005-11. “Just a new locker room and new training facilities is a big difference. Then you have new faces around you, so it’s taken a little time to get used to (the changes).”
Fortunately for Simms, everyone on the Revolution’s roster is going through a bit of an acclimation process this preseason as Jay Heaps has taken the reins from longtime head coach Steve Nicol. In many cases, what’s new to Simms is new to everyone.
Simms’ transition has been further aided by prior relationships with a few Revolution players – in particular D.C. native Kevin Alston – and his well-deserved reputation throughout the league as a respected veteran presence in the locker room. Despite his newbie status, Simms has already stepped into a quiet leadership role, according to Heaps.
“He has a really good, calm head and professionalism across the board,” Heaps said. “Right away, players gravitate toward that. They want to hear what he has to say … You can really tell that the guys have a lot of respect for him.”
That respect is particularly evident when speaking with captain Shalrie Joseph, who experienced firsthand Simms’ abilities while battling head-to-head in central midfield during the heated New England – D.C. rivalry for the past seven seasons.
“Clyde will be great for us,” said Joseph. “He’s great on the ball, he keeps possession and he keeps the game moving. Defensively, he’s very solid. I look forward to playing alongside him.”
It’s only been three weeks since Simms embarked upon his new journey in Foxborough, but already he’s finding an increased sense of comfort and a familiarity with his teammates.
“It’s great to be out training with the guys and getting familiar with the way they like to play,” Simms said. “Every player has their own little personality on the field and I think I’m starting to get used to certain guys. There are some very good players here and when you play with good players, they make everything easy.
“Every day I’m feeling more and more comfortable,” he said.