One of the most recognizable players in Major League Soccer appeared in unfamiliar surroundings Friday as defensive midfielder Shalrie Joseph trained with Sounders FC.
Joseph is a seven-time All-Star and four-time MLS Best XI honoree. He played for a decade with the New England Revolution before being traded to Chivas USA last summer. Chivas retains his rights, but the club gave Seattle permission to give him a look.
“He’s always been a quality player; he’s always been involved on good teams,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought he was a main cog on the (New England) team that got to MLS Cup for a lot of years (2005-07). He’s a guy who talks a lot on the field and helps direct younger players. There are a lot of positives to him.”
The move also sounds appealing to Joseph, who said he quickly concluded that he doesn’t fit in with Chivas, which plans to remake itself under coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola into a club emphasizing Mexican players and Latin American style of play.
“On Day Two (at Chivas) I realized this might not
be the place for me,” Joseph said. “And after speaking to the coach I knew it definitely wasn’t the place for me; and it was on to what I can do next for my career. I talked to my agent and he asked me where I would like to go, and (Seattle) was the first team that 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; and I think they have a winning organization, and I think I could be a great part of this if I get the opportunity.”
Joseph said he would be open to playing central defender, which has become a Sounders position of need due to the trade of Jeff Parke to Philadelphia and Patrick Ianni’s foot injury.
Schmid would not say if trade negotiations have begun with Chivas. And both Schmid and Joseph acknowledged the Sounders might not have the salary cap flexibility to make a deal happen.
“This is one of the great organizations in the league right now, and I want to be a part of it,” Joseph said. “Hopefully it will work out in the next couple of weeks and they get me out here, and hopefully I’ll be wearing a Sounders uniform.”
Joseph, 34, was born in Grenada and has 20 appearances with its national team.
He joined New England as the 14th overall selection of the 2002 SuperDraft. Last season, he made 18 appearances with the Revs and 12 with Chivas, combining for three goals and four assists. He has 39 career goals and 25 assists over his MLS career.
Four additional players are expected to rejoin the Sounders today after duty with their respective national teams: forward Eddie Johnson (USA), midfielder Brad Evans (USA), midfielder Mario Martinez (Honduras) and defender Adam Johansson (Sweden).
Johnson got a head start Friday, reporting to Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila for weight training, and was surprised and happy to see Joseph.
“If I was the coach, I’d take him,” Johnson said. “We all know what he can do. We all know the affect that he’s had on this league. He’s a very good player, a very experienced player. Someone I wouldn’t mind having here.”
Johnson played into the 58th minute Wednesday in the USA’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss at Honduras. Martinez played 90 minutes for the host nation. Evans did not play.