José Gonçalves is back in camp with the New England Revolution, but he’s not backing down from comments this week indicating he’s upset with the club.
The reigning Defender of the Year met with the media during the club’s first preseason workout on Saturday and echoed similar sentiments expressed during an interview with A Minute in Sports! blog that the team has not made good on promises made last year concerning his contract.
Gonçalves, 28, joined the Revs on loan from Swiss club FC Sion last January and was instrumental in leading the team back to the postseason for the first time since 2009. He earned a Best XI selection and was named the league’s top defender before the club exercised the purchase option on his loan and exercised the 2014 option in his MLS contract in November.
“I don’t really need to say [what] kinds of promises have been made,” Gonçalves told the media. “I think it’s something that stays between me and the club. Of course, they know exactly what I am talking about. It’s a situation we tried, in the past, to find a solution [to].”
Gonçalves said last week that the Revs “gave me the feeling that I am easy to replace,” a sentiment club GM Michael Burns promptly denied on Friday after he became aware of Gonçalves' comments.
But Gonçalves stuck to his tone on Saturday, even after Burns insisted the defender is “a valuable member of the Revolution” following a stellar year on the back line.
“It’s very important that I feel that I am welcome here,” Gonçalves said. “I am worth it, what I am doing on the field, and also outside the field. That’s something I take very personally, and it’s very important as a player, and as the captain of the club, to feel that.”
Head coach Jay Heaps said he was aware of Gonçalves' comments, but steered clear of the specifics on the team’s first day in camp.
“You read those things and sometimes it’s a part of the game, unfortunately,” Heaps said. “I’m not going to comment on the situation other than to say, ‘Look, those things happen,’ but we have to move forward and we’re on to the next day and the next session.”
Gonçalves said midweek that he’s hopeful to work his way into the picture for the Portuguese national team and that he’s interested in a potential return to Europe, where he spent 10 years before joining Major League Soccer last season. He echoed those comments over the weekend, and added that things “are much easier” there.
“Europe has always been [a goal of] my career,” Gonçalves said. “I played there most of my career, my family is there, friends, and I know the league. I have a lot of goals in my career, like playing in the [Portuguese] national team, and this is one of my biggest goals, and of course you have to have success in the club [first]. This is something I was always thinking about, and we will see what happens.”
The Revs will head to Bradenton, Fla., on Monday morning for a 12-day stay at IMG Academy to start their preseason in earnest. Gonçalves said he’s unsure if he’ll find a resolution with the club and added he has not spoken with Burns at length yet about the situation, but hopes to in the near future.
“I think that, in the next few days, we will sit down and discuss the situation,” Gonçalves said. “But for now, I think that the most important thing is that the group gets back in training. When we find a time to speak about this, then we will do it.”