CARSON, Calif. – When Shalrie Joseph was dealt from New England to Chivas USA a week ago, his immediate reaction was sadness.
Not too long after, though, his mindset changed.
“Once the initial shock wore off, it was, ‘What’s next for me?’” Joseph told reporters on Monday. “That’s how I live my life. What’s next? What can I do in the next moment? How can I make myself better?”
Having had the chance to talk to his new teammates and coaches, though, Joseph’s familiar smile is back. After spending his entire career with the Revolution, Joseph suddenly finds himself in the midst of a Western Conference playoff chase. While it was difficult to depart the Northeast, the door that opened out west is one he now looks at with eagerness.
“For me to come down here in a nice place, a nice environment ... it put a big smile on my face,” Joseph said. “I’m moving into a team that’s in the hunt for the playoffs, a great environment, great locker room, great players around me. That’s what the big smile’s about.”
Joseph trained with the Rojiblancos for the first time on Monday after only having gotten into Southern California late Sunday. He was immediately greeted with a taste of what life figures to be like for him now – a relaxed atmosphere and loads of sunshine.
“It’s going to be a good environment ... and great for my career,” he said. “Being able to practice in this kind of weather and practice on grass every day, that’s going to do so much for my career [and] extend my career.”
During training, Joseph was indistinguishable from any teammates – save for his trademark braids. He stepped right into an 11-on-11 session, working with his new teammates without much trace of unfamiliarity. His movement was sharp, passes precise, and effort not lacking in the least.
Having made such a seamless early transition speaks to both his own approach to training and the conversations he had with Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser and what he expects from Joseph.
“Once I know that, then I can go in there and do my job,” Joseph said, “which is playing, working hard, being a leader, making sure everyone comes into practice ready to work hard every day and be ready to play on the weekend.”
Playing on the weekend is not something Joseph had done much in his last month with New England. He’d started just one of the last five games and came off the bench in three of the other matches. He attributed his quick exit from Foxborough to a damaged relationship between himself and first-year head coach Jay Heaps.
“We had a rocky relationship for the last couple of weeks," noted Joseph. "Me and Jay started off great, and it just hit a road where both of us weren’t seeing in the same direction, we weren’t going in the same direction. With me, it’s all about moving forward, trying to better myself, trying to better the team and that wasn’t happening.”
New England are now in his rearview mirror, though, and the road before him looks challenging but exciting at the same time.
“It has been a whirlwind for the last three or four days," Joseph added. "To find out the news that I had been traded here was something unexpected, but something I look forward to and something I took with a smile on my face. I look forward to a new challenge.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached be e-mail at email@example.com.