Joseph returns to provide depth on the field, leadership in the locker room

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In his own words, Shalrie Joseph is happy to be “right back at home.”

After brief stints with Chivas USA (2012) and Seattle Sounders FC (2013), Joseph has returned to the club where he spent the first nine-and-a-half years of his MLS career, officially rejoining the New England Revolution on Tuesday afternoon when he was claimed through the Waiver Draft.

The move concluded a lengthy process to acquire Joseph’s rights. The former Revolution captain originally joined New England’s Tucson-based preseason camp on an extended trial basis back in mid-February, but it wasn’t until two months later that Joseph’s return became official.

“It looked like we were going to get him,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Then it looked like we weren’t going to get him. Then there were a couple little things that happened.

“But I think it’s good. It’s really good to add another veteran voice in [the locker room] and someone that understands this league. We’ve got a lot of young guys. A guy like Shalrie can guide a lot of players in their growth. He has some experience that we’re going to call upon at certain times this year.”

Joseph was a dominant force in New England’s midfield for the better part of a decade, racking up eight MLS All-Star nods and earning MLS Best XI honors four times before the trade which sent him to Chivas USA midway through the 2012 campaign. He started in all three of the Revolution’s MLS Cup appearances between 2005 and 2007, and was a finalist for MLS MVP in 2009.

Now one month shy of his 36th birthday, Joseph will be the first to admit he’s no longer the same player, but he feels he still has plenty left to offer the Revs both on and off the field. He’s still working toward regaining his fitness, but from a leadership standpoint, he’s already making an impact in the locker room.

“Shalrie’s such a great guy, a great leader,” said Chris Tierney, who was previously a teammate of Joseph’s from 2008-12. “He’s obviously been very important in my career and bringing me along. He’s a guy that I’ve looked up to for a while, so to have him back in the squad is only going to be a good thing for all of us.”

“I know what it takes to make it in this league,” said Joseph. “It’s a young group in there and I’ll make sure to push each and every one of them to practice hard, work hard and just do everything for the team.”

Joseph’s veteran presence is unquestionably the key component of his return to New England, but Heaps said there will be times that Joseph will be called upon to help the Revs on the field, particularly late in matches when a calming presence could be just what’s required.

“If you’re winning a game and you need someone to go in and clog the hole, he can definitely do that,” said Heaps. “But there will be times, there will be a game here or there that we need him.”

When that time comes, Joseph plans to be ready. In the meantime, he’ll spend his days mentoring the Revolution’s younger players and working his body into its peak physical condition. He knows that’ll take a bit of extra work at this stage of his career, but there’s nowhere else he’d rather undertake that challenge than Foxborough.

And if everything falls into place, there’s hope that perhaps Joseph can accomplish the one objective which eluded him during his first stint in New England.

“I’m a lot more mature and there’s a lot of mileage on this body, so I’ve got to get it in shape,” Joseph said with a smile. “With me, it’s all about being professional and trying to win every game and working hard toward one goal, which is to win a championship.”