New England's Joseph says yes to Grenada call-up
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After wrestling with the decision for the past several days, New England captain Shalrie Joseph has accepted a call-up to Grenada and will join the Spice Boyz for the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month.
Joseph informed the Revolution of his decision on Tuesday morning and told MLSsoccer.com that he struggled to reach a final verdict before ultimately deciding to link up with his national team.
“I tried to put my country first,” Joseph said. “I understand that my priorities will always be with the Revolution, but, right now, my country needs me to represent them.”
Joseph's decision means the Revolution will have to cope without two of its three starting central midfielders next month, as Benny Feilhaber was included in the US squad announced on Monday. Feilhaber will play in his second Gold Cup as he continues to build on his World Cup appearance last summer and retain his status as a mainstay in Bob Bradley's squad.
“It's always been a goal of mine to stay on the team,” Feilhaber said. “Obviously, the World Cup was a step forward for me, and I'd like to continue going forward with the national team and keep progressing. It's really important for me to still be a part of the team.”
Joseph and Feilhaber will depart for national team duty after Saturday's home date with Los Angeles. Both players will miss at least two matches (June 4 at FC Dallas and June 10 at New York) and could miss a total of five domestic fixtures if their respective nations reach the final.
Revolution coach Steve Nicol said the absences of Joseph and Feilhaber will create a difficult void for his side to fill in the center of the park, but he also said it would give other potential options a chance to impress.
“It's going to be tough to replace the two of them, but, at the same time, it's an opportunity for someone else to come in, do well and make it hard for me not to keep playing them,” Nicol said.
Although Feilhaber and Joseph will link up with their respective national teams next week, both players said they planned to keep an eye on the proceedings at Gillette Stadium as they compete in the Gold Cup.
“You have to make sure and stay focused,” Joseph said about juggling his dual priorities. “The first game is against LA and I know how important it is that we pick up that three points at home against a great team in this league. The MLS season is more important to me right now. Once I go to my national team, then I will focus on that.”