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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Joseph starting to show frustrations

By Brian O'Connell

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As one of the longest-tenured players on the Revolution roster, captain Shalrie Joseph knows a thing or two about the peaks and the valleys seen in New England during his nine seasons here.

And after the last place Revs dropped their fourth straight loss to a beatable-San Jose squad on Saturday, the nine-year veteran who’s never shy to mince his words, aired out his frustrations.

“We’ve got a lot of immaturity (on this team)” Joseph said. “We give up soft goals (and) we’re not able to convert our chances. We can’t play in this league and (expect to win) with so many mistakes and blunders.”

While Joseph had previously hinted at the team’s lack of maturity and form during the summer, the skipper, who had been part of three of the team’s four Eastern Conference championships, broadened his perspective to the team’s standing in relation to the rest of the region’s sporting landscape.

“Right now,” Joseph said. “We’re not one of those teams that people want to talk about or that people want to watch.”

By “one of those teams that people want to talk about,” Joseph is referencing the region’s other major sports teams: the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics, all of whom have heightened the bar for success in New England by winning a combined seven championships in the past 10 years.

Despite reaching the MLS Cup final four times between 2002 and 2007, the Revolution have slipped under the radar thanks to back-to-back losing seasons. And for that reason, Joseph, who played in front of a scant 9,111 fans during Saturday’s penultimate home game, couldn’t help but notice that the team’s faltering form has hurt fan support this season.

“The fans don’t come out and support (us) which is our fault because we don’t produce enough or we don’t put enough players out there that are exciting or good enough for them to come out and support,” said Joseph. “That’s our fault for not winning games to have support. You could hear a pin drop tonight and it’s frustrating playing in front of a dead stadium.”

Although the team’s average attendance has increased by 10% this season compared to 2010, Saturday’s four-figure attendance statistic was unusually low taking into account how well the team typically draws during its autumn-month matches.

Yet, regardless of how many fans were at Gillette Stadium Saturday night, for Joseph to openly criticize the lack of atmosphere at the stadium is surprising. As a long-time fan favorite, Joseph has often gone out of his way to praise the fanbase for its support and regularly applauds the home crowd after every match.

But after two straight losing seasons and Saturday’s sparse crowd, it appears as if the team’s slide is starting to strike a nerve with the team’s leading scorer. In the past, Joseph would simply take each game one at a time, win, lose, or draw. It was an attitude that helped the team’s leader stay level-headed even after the most frightful defeats.

Now, it’s clear that Joseph’s patience and tolerance towards the poor performances has worn thin. With the team anchored to the basement and little hope of a revival in the near future, Joseph, who’s contract expires in the offseason, indicated that unless changes are made to bring the Revs back into Boston’s sports conversation, he may be taking his talents elsewhere.

“This is a championship town,” Joseph said. “This franchise deserves better. If we can’t be one of those sports teams (that) people talk about, (then) there’s no point for me to be here.”

Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.