There were already plenty of midfield options available in New England when the season ended. Andy Dorman only increased the selection headaches when he returned to the club last week.
None of them, however, offered the physical presence promised by the arrival of former Bristol City and Reading midfielder Kalifa Cissé.
Cissé, 28, joined the Revolution on Monday on a free transfer after recently completing a successful trial spell with the club. The Mali international midfielder is expected to join the Revs at the start of training camp in January and provide some steel to a side that won the Xbox Fair Play award for its 2012 displays.
YouTube: Kalifa Cissé highlights
“He's a big, strong player,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns told MLSsoccer by phone on Monday. “He can win balls. He's technical. He complements our current group and gives us something in the midfield that we might not have at the moment.”
Cissé agreed to travel across the Atlantic to prove he could fill the void despite a résumé – including spells in the top two English divisions and the Portuguese top flight – that could have warranted an immediate contract offer. His decision allowed all involved parties to see how he fit into the squad and whether a move made sense.
“As soon as he left here, we were involved in talks to have him signed,” Burns said. “We were glad that we were able to get a deal done with him. I think it actually helped him and us that he was over here for some time to see everything. I think it helped to get the deal done.”
The collective desire to cement the relationship in time for the 2013 campaign ensures Heaps will have yet another midfield choice at his disposal when the season starts in March.
“We feel like he's definitely another piece,” Burns said. “We're expecting him to come in and make a significant impact for us on the field and in the locker room.”
Kyle McCarthy covers the New England Revolution for MLSsoccer.com