For nine and a half seasons, Shalrie Joseph wore the badge of the New England Revolution with pride and honor.
Midway through his tenth season, though, the Revs were rebuilding and dealt him to Chivas USA where he finished out the 2012 season before seeing a trade to Seattle during the preseason. Now, he is wearing the colors of the Sounders FC and already has developed a similar sense of pride in his new club.
He looks around the locker room and sees talented players up and down the roster and he gets a feeling like he’s been there before. This team, he says, is strikingly similar to the New England teams that reached three straight MLS Cup finals from 2005-2007. Though they were never able to win the MLS Cup, the collection of talent in that room was undeniably one of the best ever formed in the league.
“It was a special group. Guys bonded and our success came from all the off-the-field activities. We stayed together and once we got on the field we worked for each other,” Joseph said. “I had a great time getting to know those guys and when we had those successful teams even though we were never able to win it all. It was definitely one of the greatest feelings playing with that group of guys.”
Among others, that group included US National Team and Tottenham Hotspur star Clint Dempsey, MLS all-time assist leader and current Houston Dynamo assistant coach Steve Ralston, three-time MLS Cup winner and current LA Galaxy assistant coach Pat Noonan and goalscorer extraordinaire and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman. Not to mention onetime Sounder defender James Riley.
Another of the stars of that team that has gone on to success since the end of his playing career is Jay Heaps. Now the head coach of the Revolution, his work ethic was a staple of the MLS Cup finalist Revolution teams and he is now instilling it in the current team.
The team was not only a collection of great soccer talent but also an assembly of great soccer minds.
“We talked about soccer all the time. It was all about team success. It was all about the team winning,” Joseph said. “It’s the same way with this team. We’ve got a special bunch together and once we are able to get together I think we’re going to be one of the better teams in the league.”
This week, Joseph’s present and past collide when the Sounders meet the Revolution at CenturyLink Field. And while he spent just a short time with Chivas USA, he was still able to get his first match against his former team under his belt. And was it ever a memorable one.
In that match, he scored two goals to lead Chivas to a 3-3 draw at Gillette Stadium. It was his fourth career multi-goal game.
“Every game I try to go out and give 110 percent. I try to put out my best performance and leave everything on the field,” he said. “On that day, I just happened to score two goals. It felt great to get a point.”
He had plenty of success against the Sounders in the early stages of Seattle’s MLS existence, too. In 2009, he scored the lone goal in a 1-0 Revs win in Seattle, then followed it up with two goals in a 2-1 win for New England at Gillette Stadium.
Memories of those matches aren’t the only reason Joseph was an appealing addition to the Sounders. In ten career MLS seasons, he has 39 goals and 35 assists over 273 appearances. Those successes he’s seen throughout his career certainly are among them.
As is pairing the four-time MLS Best XI selection next to Seattle’s own Best XI midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.
“Shalrie is helpful for us on the field because he is a voice and he is a presence and he is a good passer of the ball so those things help us,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I still think he’s finding his fitness and he still needs to show that he can get around the field. He helps us recover some balls so that entire burden can’t fall on Ozzie’s shoulders, but certainly his organizational abilities and his passing abilities help us.”
When he came to the Sounders, April 13 was one of the dates he circled on his calendar.
It will be an opportunity for him to see some old friends and reminisce about a time gone by. It will also be a chance to show the Sounders FC faithful where his allegiance lies now.
“It’s a special feeling,” he said. “It’s going to be a great treat for me to play for a new team in front of a new home crowd.”