FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Shalrie Joseph made his New England debut as a halftime substitute in a fairly mundane 2-1 defeat at Columbus on Apr. 19, 2003.
At the time, few people could have imagined the instant importance of the swap (Joseph soon displaced Daniel Hernandez – the man he replaced that day – and hastened the future FC Dallas captain's departure) and the massive impact Joseph would exert over the Revolution franchise over the next nine seasons.
Joseph will conclude the 2011 campaign by inscribing his name atop two key categories in the Revolution record book. If he starts in Saturday afternoon's season finale at Toronto FC (12:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), Joseph will match former defender Jay Heaps' club record for career appearances (243) and set a new mark for starts (239, one more than Heaps) in a Revs uniform.
“Jay's one of my good friends,” Joseph told MLSsoccer.com. “It's one of those things where I'll definitely feel honored. I look forward to it. He's one of those guys who played with so much emotion. He came out every week and worked hard. For me to be even close to him in terms of games played, minutes and all of that stuff, it feels great.”
Revolution coach Steve Nicol said those records reflect the extensive contribution Joseph has made since his arrival and show how much the 33-year-old has meant to the club during his spell in Foxborough.
“Where do you want to start,” Nicol said. “He's been a huge part of this team, certainly since I've been here. All of the good things we've done, he's been a major part of [them]. He's given everything for the team and the organization. On the field, it's tough to say if there's anybody who has given more. If there's been a better player at this club, you have to tell me who it is.”
Despite his contributions to the side and his status as an influential figure over the past nine years, Joseph knows that he may not return to the Revolution next season. His contract expires at the end of the year and the two sides have yet to reach an agreement over a pact for next season.
The uncertainty means that Joseph could claim those records for longevity in his last game for the club. Although his future remains unresolved, Joseph hopes to continue his career – and extend those records – with the Revolution next season.
“Hopefully, it's not the end of my career here,” Joseph said. “I can come back, represent the Revs and finish up my career here. I love being here. We have a lot of young guys on this team. If we can put it together, then I think we have a good team.”