Thus far in the 2013 campaign, it has been a stop-and-start season for Sounders FC midfielder Shalrie Joseph.
After coming to Seattle in a preseason trade, the 11-year MLS veteran has been limited by a recurring calf strain that has largely been the cause for him missing 13 of Seattle’s 22 matches. On Saturday, he was fit and ready to roll against the Houston Dynamo, though.
At BBVA Compass Stadium, he made his return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench last week against Toronto FC and missing the four previous matches. The result was a free-flowing Seattle attack that registered a season-high 20 shots, thanks in part to the midfield play of the four-time MLS Best XI selection.
It was the first time he had gone 90 minutes since that last start on July 6 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC and while he was happy to be back approaching his old form, the 3-1 defeat to Houston still was the over-riding emotion after the match.
“It felt great going 90 today. My legs felt great. I covered a lot of ground and kept the ball and made some good passes,” Joseph said. “At the end of the day, it was frustrating we weren’t able to get the three points. We’d been playing so well as a team and tonight we just didn’t do enough to get the three points we needed.”
On Saturday, he completed 46 of his 55 pass attempts, including two “key passes” – or would-be assists that weren’t converted for goals.
With Seattle trailing 2-0 and in need of a confidence-boosting goal, Joseph provided just that, heading in a Marc Burch free kick in the 65th minute for his first goal with Sounders FC. However, Seattle couldn’t find the equalizer and Houston stole the momentum back with a 74th minute goal to put the game out of reach.
It was Joseph’s first goal since scoring twice on August 29, 2012, against the New England Revolution in his brief stint with Chivas USA last year. But even while enjoying his moment in the limelight, he gets back to the result.
“Burch played me a great ball and I just got up and tried to head it down. I got good contact and then it took a nice bounce and it went in,” he said. “It felt great, but unfortunately for us the result didn’t go the way we wanted tonight.”
That bigger picture mentality is exactly why Joseph is important to Sounders FC in 2013.
Like Clint Dempsey, Joseph has been on the brink of an MLS Cup only to come up short. Now, he is fighting with all his might to help Seattle get there. And even small personal victories aren’t enough to keep him happy. Playing 90 minutes and scoring for Seattle are both great steps along the way, but Joseph is here to win MLS Cup and until that fruit is picked from the tree, he will not be satisfied.