Sporting's "Haitian Xavi" reveals reason for lengthy absence
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Peterson Joseph has returned to Sporting Kansas City, still grieving but ready to move forward with the club.
The midfielder, dubbed the “Haitian Xavi” for his passing and footwork skills, missed all of Sporting’s preseason and nearly two months of the regular season. During his absence, coach Peter Vermes said only that Joseph was dealing with serious family issues in his home country and would have all the time off he needed.
After playing the second half of Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to Colorado in Reserve League action, Joseph revealed the extent of his loss.
“My mother passed away,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s life. I have to move forward. I will push and give my best for the team.”
Joseph showed some deft touches in the reserve loss, making sharp passes and dribbling at least one defender off his feet. He also showed a competitive streak, giving the Rapids’ Wells Thompson a smack in the arm after Thompson clipped him, but clearly tired as the second half wore on.
“I feel good,” Joseph said, “but it’s a long time without playing, so it’s tough for me. It’s very hard. I’ve been pushing myself to go forward. Physically I’m not good, so I’m going to try my best to go to the next level.”
Manager Peter Vermes is glad to see Joseph back, but also said fans shouldn’t expect to see him in the senior team any time soon.
“He’s a good soccer player,” Vermes said. “That part’s good. But he can’t sustain it. It’s just something that we’re going to have to deal with from a point of view of just making sure that we’re not impatient, nor is he.”
Vermes, whose 7-1-0 side is off from MLS play this weekend, said it could be four to six weeks before Joseph is ready for first-team consideration.
“He doesn’t have the fitness. That’s going to be the big thing,” Vermes said. “With that, he’s going to be better on the ball over time as well, because now he’s a little rusty. He’s in preseason, and that’s unfortunate. We’re way beyond preseason, and that’s the difficulty.”
Vermes stressed, though, that the club has not begrudged Joseph the time away.
“Obviously, it was a tragedy what occurred,” he said. “We needed to respect his family situation. Absolutely, that was No. 1 for the whole time that he was gone, and even now.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.