Three times Shalrie Joseph has been to the brink of the top of the mountain in Major League Soccer, but he was never able to take the next step. Now with the Sounders FC, he envisions reaching the pinnacle – an MLS Cup title – and can’t wait to get back to Seattle to begin that journey.
Joseph, 34, came to the Sounders in a trade on Tuesday along with two second round picks in the 2014 and 2015 MLS SuperDrafts and a swap in the allocation order, moving Seattle to No. 3 and Chivas USA to No. 15. In his 10 MLS seasons, Joseph reached the MLS Cup final three times with the New England Revolution, only to fall to the LA Galaxy in 2005 and the Houston Dynamo in 2006 and 2007. With Seattle, he hopes to lift the trophy and fulfill part of his career goals.
“MLS Cup is the only goal for me. I played for so many years in this league and been to the Cup three years with the Revolution and still haven’t won one,” Joseph said. “My first priority is to try to get back to the Cup to win it all. I look forward to that challenge.”
Joseph was a vital component to the Revolution during their reign in the Eastern Conference, earning MLS Best XI honors four times. His ability to score and assist while also defending made him one of the top players in the league during that time. In his third year in the league in 2005, he finished with six goals and five assists in 31 matches. In his other Best XI seasons, he had four goals and five assists in 27 matches in 2007, one goal and one assist in 27 games in 2008 and eight goals and eight assists in 27 games in 2009.
During that five-year stretch, 39 different players were named MLS Best XI. Ten of them were named to the squad more than once. Only one other player, though, earned the honor four times – Dwayne DeRosario.
In the years since, he’s had several showdowns with players who are now his Sounders FC teammates, but now he embraces those old opponents as friends fighting for the same cause now.
“Some of these guys I’ve played against and I’ve left some kicks on them, but they’ve left some kicks on me too,” he said. “I’m working with them now and it feels good to be on this team.”
Playing on two young teams in the Revolution and Chivas USA in 2012, Joseph didn’t get a chance to shine and fell out of form. Now in Sounders training camp, he is working with fitness coach Dave Tenney to get back in shape and will soon be back on the field and has plans to continue to drive the Sounders further than they’ve reached in their first four seasons in MLS and to reach their ultimate goal of winning MLS Cup.
“Right now it’s just about getting my fitness. Once I get fit and get sharp, I definitely can make a positive impact on this team,” Joseph said. “I know the feeling to get there. I want to know the feeling to win it all.”
The Sounders are finishing off the preseason in Tucson, Ariz., with a friendly against Veracruz from Mexico on Friday and the Desert Diamond Cup final against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. When they return to Seattle, they will spend next week focused on their season-opening match against the Montreal Impact on Saturday, March 2.