A quick thought to kick off the work week. Top of the list is Shalrie Joseph. The captain of the New England Revolution is returning to the Revs in 2012. The 33 year old inked a new deal with Revolution president Brian Bilello under new head coach Jay Heaps. After months of speculation we now know that Joseph will not depart the team.
The catch here is that Joseph's new deal now commands a Designated Player status. Apparently management felt it was worthwhile to invest the money in Joseph in order to maintain the face of the franchise. While there is little doubt that Shalrie is an absolutely fantastic player, one wonders if both parties would not have been better served to part ways. Joseph has had his difficulties being a leader off the field and his on the field play has been in decline for years. The move could potentially make or break the memory of Shalrie's career. He could be remembered as the elite player he's capable of being or a man who ended his career on an overpaid vacation.
With Jay Heaps taking over for Steve Nicol, we mark the dawn of a new era and look for sweeping changes in an ailing franchise. The biggest question that comes to mind is if Heaps would have been smarter to simply send Joseph away and have a brand new canvas with which to work. The money spent on the player could certainly be spent on a younger, more talented DP whose form/leadership would not be in question. The Revolution are currently in the process of breaking the mentality of a "cheap team" and with the trouble management had with fans last season, it seems like a whole new outlook would be better for everyone.
Now though, Shalrie Joseph has a role to live up to. With the new DP tag comes an even higher set of expectations. The biggest question is if the 33 year old is past his prime and thus past what would have warranted him DP status. His off field behavior will be under further scrutiny and if he fails to deliver on field, the blame will fall right back on management and Jay Heaps without the excuse of "Well, we tried something new and it didn't work out."
Those concerns aside, I'd like nothing more than to see Joseph succeed and help lead the Revolution back to their days of dominance. For one of the founding teams of MLS to be bottom feeders struggling on the field and at the gate in the canyon that is Gillette Stadium is a tragedy. The Revolution once stood for the league elite and it'd be nice to see them return to that. It might also lead to a real soccer stadium down the line.