Seven-time MLS All-Star Shalrie Joseph is still a member of Chivas USA, but on Friday he was wearing Rave Green and training with Sounders FC.
It was the first step that Joseph hopes will land him in Seattle for the 2013 season. Joseph, long considered one of the league’s best midfielders while playing for the New England Revolution, was traded to Chivas last summer, but after a coaching change in the offseason, Joseph realized he no was a fit with the Los Angles club. And Chivas’ news coach, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola has made no secret that Joseph is not part of the team’s plans going forward.
“It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks in L.A., so now I’m enjoying getting back to playing,” Joseph said. “It feels good to train with some guys who actually appreciate what I can bring to a team. For me it’s just trying to get out there, kick the ball around and get back to what I love doing, which is playing soccer.
Asked when he realized things weren’t going to work in L.A., Joseph said, “Day 2, to be honest with you. Day 1 it was frustrating to be there, and Day 2 I realized, this might not be the place for me. After speaking to the coach and hearing what he wanted, I definitely knew it wasn’t the place for me, and it was on to what I could do next in my career.
“I talked to my agent and he asked me where I would like to go, and this was the first team I picked out of the hat that I wanted to play for. I know the organization, I know the coaches, I know some of the players. They have a winning organization and I think I can be a great part of this if I get the opportunity.”
At 34, Joseph knows he doesn’t have a ton of time left in his career, and hopes to join Seattle and make a title push.
“With all the changes they were making, the coaches and staff and all of that, then I realized it,” he said. “Speaking to the coach and seeing how he feels and the direction the team was going, I knew I wasn’t going to be a part of it. Once I realized that, it was where I wanted to play, where I wanted to finish my career. This is one of the greatest organizations in the league right now, and I wanted to be a part of it.
“This is a good place for me, especially in this part of my career. I want to win a trophy, I want to get back to a championship, and I think this team, if I can be a part of it, I think they can make that jump.”
The question now is if Seattle can make a trade work out to bring Joseph to Seattle. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid wouldn’t confirm that trade talks were underway, but said, “He’s still property of Chivas, and we have permission to look at him, so we’re looking at him a little bit.”
(And yeah, it’s a little odd that teams can look at a player before making a trade, but that’s how it works in MLS)
Since coming to Seattle, Schmid has always praised Joseph’s play when Sounders FC was facing the Revolution.
“He’s a quality player; he’s always been a quality player,” Schmid said. “He’s been involved in good teams. He was a main cog on their team that got to MLS Cups for a lot of years, and he’s a guy who talks and helps direct younger players, so there are a lot of positive qualities to him. But we’re a team that’s cap constrained, so there are a lot of things to work out.”
Joseph has been a designated player in recent years, so it could be complicated getting him to fit in Seattle with the team’s cap constraints. The Sounders do have an open DP slot because of Fredy Montero’s departure, but they may want to save that spot to bring in a forward to replace Montero rather than use it on a 34-year-old midfielder. Of course there are plenty of other moves Seattle could make between now and the start of the season to free up cap space.
Joseph hopes that whatever it takes to make it work, he can be a Sounder when the season starts.
“Hopefully they can make it work,” He said.” … Hopefully it will work out in the next couple of weeks and hopefully I’ll be wearing a Sounders uniform.”