CARSON, Calif. – Shalrie Joseph arrives in Southern California this weekend and is set to train for the first time Monday with Chivas USA, and head coach Robin Fraser is ecstatic to welcome him aboard.
The veteran midfielder, who was acquired in a trade Wednesday from New England, is a massive piece in the puzzle Fraser and his staff have trying to solve over the past 19 months, and his presence is expected to take the club another step or two toward contending for hardware.
Joseph, 34, a four-time MLS Best XI selection in nine-and-a-half seasons with the Revolution, figures to step in next to Ecuadorian Oswaldo Minda to form what could be Major League Soccer's most physical – and perhaps frightening – central-midfield tandem.
“Obviously, Shalrie is a very, very accomplished player in this league,” Fraser said following Chivas' 1-1 MLS Reserve League draw Friday morning against Vancouver. “He's a winner, he's a battler. I remember playing against him his first game into the league; I thought, 'Oh, this kid's a pretty good player.' And he's sure surpassed that.
“He's a very intelligent player at both ends of the field. Very solid in the defensive end, certainly very competent and potent at the attacking end. ... We've seen many times in the past where New England needs something, so they put him up front and he scores a goal. They need him to play in the back, he prevents goals. You need him to connect through the midfield, he does that. Bringing him into the mix is certainly going to help.”
The Rojiblancos hope Joseph can help turn their midfield possession into something tangible, that he can trigger connections that will enable a potent frontline – Juan Agudelo, Juan Pablo Ángel and José Erik Correa – to find the net more readily. Chivas USA are the worst offensive team in the league, with only 14 goals in 20 games.
“It's a work in progress to build a team,” Fraser said. “As you grow and you maybe accomplish this, [there are things that] could maybe be tweaked to make us a little sharper and a little better. I just think in terms of putting together a complete team, [acquiring] a player like Shalrie is something that will move us closer in that direction.”
Joseph is set to debut in next weekend's SuperClasico against the LA Galaxy, and be could be working on his partnership with Minda by then, too. Minda, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, might be ready to go.
“I don't know if it's probable, but it's possible,” Fraser said.