TUCSON, Ariz. – Shalrie Joseph is aware the clock is ticking on his decorated career. And the 34-year-old knows time is running out for him to raise an MLS Cup for the first time.
That – combined with rave reviews from his friends in Seattle – made the Sounders tops on his list of where he wanted to continue his career after a forgettable half-season with Chivas USA in 2012. And after Seattle swung a deal to bring him in on Tuesday, he can’t believe his turn of fate.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday night after his new team defeated New York 2-0 at the Desert Diamond Cup. "I’m at the tail end of my career and I want a chance to win a championship. I think this is the team that’s giving me the best chance to win.”
Joseph arrived here in Arizona earlier in the day, flying in from Boston a day after Seattle acquired him in a lopsided deal from Chivas, who will contribute part of his Designated Player-level salary in 2013. It was the merciful end to a saga that began last month when new Rojiblancos coach José Luis “Chelís” Sánchez Solá said the four-time MLS Best XI selection wasn’t in his plans.
The 10-year veteran surprisingly turned up at training in Seattle on Feb. 8. A few days with the organization convinced him that was where he wanted to be.
Tuesday’s deal, however, re-materialized quickly after Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid suggested after Joseph's trial ended that he wasn't fit enough to swing a deal to get him into Rave Green permanently. The player admits he’s still got a ways to go physically, but he never doubted he put his best foot forward during his two-day trial in Seattle.
“[Schmid] is right, I wasn’t fit and I wasn’t sharp and I’ve got a calf strain that’s still bothering me," Joseph said. "But he just spoke the truth and we had a conversation one on one. … He knows my talent, he knows what I bring to this team and what I’m capable of. That’s all that counts right now.”
How soon Joseph will be able is contribute is another story. He said he needs “a couple of days or weeks, whatever,” to get fit again.
“I’m not going to rush it and they’re not going to rush me,” he said.
And where would he play? Joseph has spent the bulk of his career at defensive midfield, a place Osvaldo Alonso – “the best in the league right now” at that position, according to Joseph – has locked down in Seattle. Joseph spent much of his Chivas USA tenure at center back, and the Sounders have something of a crisis at the position with Patrick Ianni out.
“I’ll play anywhere as long as I’m getting in the game and contributing and helping us win games,” Joseph said. “That’s all I care about. It doesn’t matter the position.”