Monday, March 26, 2012
Minutes mark long time coming for Joseph
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It may be hard to fathom now, but there was a point early in Shalrie Joseph’s career when serious doubts existed whether the Grenadian international would ever play a single minute in a Revolution uniform.
Following a stellar collegiate career at St. John’s, where he scored 21 goals for the Red Storm from 2000-01, the allure of European soccer swayed Joseph to bypass MLS altogether after New England selected him in the second round of the 2002 draft.
But he never got a serious shot overseas. After months of failing to find a European side to sign with, Joseph made his Revolution debut on Apr. 19, 2003.
Shalrie Joseph became the all-time leader in minutes played by the Revolution on Saturday, passing his current coach, Jay Heaps.
Nine years after that first MLS match, the skipper became the franchise record-holder in minutes played when the 54th minute of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Portland arrived.
Not that he was counting.
“I read it the other day on Twitter, somebody sent that message to me on Twitter and I was kind of surprised,” Joseph said. “But it feels good to have that kind of longevity with this team.”
Of course, few could have predicted exactly how the script would unfold for the record-breaking achievement.
Injuries along the back line forced head coach Jay Heaps to direct the skipper from his normal central midfield spot to central defense, alongside center back A.J. Soares.
It could have been ugly. Instead, Joseph played remarkably well in his new position. The midfielder-turned-defender frustrated Portland striker Kris Boyd from the start to finish.
“He played unbelievably,” Heaps said. “He and A.J. had a good partnership and to be honest, we were hoping to have [newly signed defender] Flo Lechner start there, so Shalrie was playing a lot of midfield leading into the week.”
Even without the opportunity to focus on the new position in practice leading up the match, there was Joseph, ever the team-first player, willing to fill in wherever needed. And perform particularly well, mind you.
“Shalrie had to be reactive and be the captain that he is,” Heaps said. “And I’ll tell you right now: He was spot-on all night. I don’t think he took a bad spot and he was able to lead us from there.”
Although Joseph has never been one to take full credit for a win, the film doesn’t lie. With the Revolution required to hold onto a one-goal lead for nearly 90 minutes, Joseph did more than cancel out Boyd.
In stoppage time of the first half, the skipper cleared a dangerous Darlington Nagbe header that nearly leveled the game at one apiece.
Even after breaking the Revolution's minutes record -- which, incidentally, was previously held by Heaps -- Joseph wasn’t interested in dwelling on the moment. The past is done. Instead, Joseph focused on the future.
“I look forward to playing many more minutes,” Joseph said. “And hopefully, setting standards for the Revolution minutes [mark].”