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Joseph: I turned down Grenada because Revs need me

Shalrie Joseph

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New England Revolution players received a pleasant surprise to start the work week when captain Shalrie Joseph walked into the locker room on Tuesday morning.

Joseph had made up his mind. It was club before country on this go-round as he declined Grenada’s invite to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“I think the best decision was to stay and play for the Revolution,” Joseph told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “I’m the captain. Guys look up to me. They need me to be to there in a time we’re in desperate need. I couldn’t afford to leave them and walk away.”

The 33-year-old had informed the Revolution last Monday that he would accept the call-up, but later in the week he indicated that his decision was not yet final. If he hadn’t shown up at Revolution training on Tuesday, it would have meant he had followed through and joined Grenada.

But last weekend’s home loss to the LA Galaxy played an important part in his decision making.

“I was hoping we would have been able to pick up three points and been able to sit in a more comfortable position in the playoff standings,” Joseph said. “It hurt the team so much that Benny [Feilhaber] is not going to be there [with US national team] and I’m not going to be there. It was going to be a huge void in the middle [of the field]."

“If we had more points and team was playing well, it’d be a different position — I would have been more comfortable leaving and coming back in couple weeks," he added. "The best decision is to stay here [in New England]. I can’t afford to leave my team in this position and play in a Gold Cup tournament. The team needs me more than anything else.”

Another factor in Joseph’s thinking was a groin strain he picked up in Saturday’s match against LA. He said the “game took a toll” on him and he wanted to make sure he received the right treatment and conducted the right workouts to recover from the injury.

The club has yet to announce the status of Feilhaber, who also suffered an ankle injury during the match.

Joseph’s representative communicated the news of his decision to Grenada and the player says the federation was disappointed but understanding. The move also served as a statement to the Revolution that he plans to be in New England long-term and well after his contract expires at the end of the season.  

“I want to show them that this is where my heart is and this is how much it means to be with the Revolution,” Joseph said. “One way I can show it is by continuing to play here. [Grenada] understand that this is my job and this is where my future is. This is where I pay my bills. And at the end of day, I have to do what’s best for me.”

Grenada will be left to battle Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica in Group B of the 2011 Gold Cup without Joseph, who missed out on the 2009 edition due to injury. Sporting Kansas City midfielder Craig Rocastle will hope to pick up the slack although Joseph says to keep an eye on Shane Rennie.

Despite his decision, the Revs captain — who grew up in Grenada and has more than 20 caps for his country — has not entirely closed the book on his international career. However, he hopes younger players are given opportunities in his stead.   

“I’m on tail end of my career,” Joseph said. “I represented my country and I’m proud of what I did there. Hopefully they’ll remember what I did there. Right now I’m concentrating on playing in New England. I want to leave my legacy and I have to win a cup. That’s the only way people are going to remember you.”