Nearly three months after his last appearance in MLS action, midfielder Kalifa Cisse and the New England Revolution agreed to terminate his hefty contract on Tuesday.
Cisse, who last saw league action on May 11 against New York, signed a three-year contract worth $400,000 annually during the offseason, making the 29-year-old former English Premier League pro the highest paid player on the roster.
“We want to thank Kalifa for his time with us and wish him well on his future opportunities,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “He has been a true professional and a great mentor for our young squad, so we wish him the best as he moves on.”
Cisse, a defensive midfielder by trade, got into only six league games for the Revolution in 2013. A combination of injuries and the emergence of homegrown player Scott Caldwell, who’s taken over the starting spot at defensive midfielder, served to push the seasoned veteran further down the depth chart.
The Mali international signed with the Revolution on Nov. 19, 2012 following a trial with the club last fall. With successful stints in the EPL with Reading and The Championship with Bristol City, Cisse appeared to bring some much-needed leadership and technical skill to a New England midfield that was essentially in shambles by the end of the 2012 season.
But Cisse never provided what the Revolution were looking for when they signed him -- at least not consistently. He appeared slow and indecisive in preseason contests, but seemed to put those performances behind him when he came out strong during the club’s season-opening 1-0 win in Chicago on March 9.
A right groin injury forced him to miss the next three games, but he returned for the April 13 contest in Seattle. From there, he started four of the next five, but shortly thereafter, lost his starting spot to Caldwell, a 22-year-old rookie.
Cisse later saw action in Open Cup competition, playing in the Revolution’s third- and fourth-round matches against Rochester and New York. A left knee sprain slowed him shortly after the fourth round win over New York on June 12, and he would not see the field for the Revolution again.
Although his name wasn’t on the injury report in recent weeks, Cisse failed to make the active roster during the club’s recent three-game road trip. With Caldwell regularly manning the defensive midfielder’s role, and the Revolution pushing for a postseason berth without the assistance of Cisse, the writing was on the wall that his time in New England was nearing its end.
On Sunday, Burns hinted to the media that the club was looking to sign a player before the close of the transfer window on Thursday -- a move that would likely require a corresponding move.
“We are looking to add before Thursday, but there’s nothing to announce yet,” Burns said. “There’s a good chance that something may happen, but it’s not done.”
The agreement to terminate Cisse’s contract will make it easier for the Revolution to make an addition before Thursday’s deadline, especially taking into account the central midfielder’s salary.
Cisse may not have been a part of the club’s push toward the playoffs, but his departure should open up a roster spot for someone who can.