In May 2000, New England Revolution defender Joe Franchino was ensconced as a starter for the Los Angeles Galaxy, located not far from his hometown of Fontana, Calif.
After two years of occasional starting duty and the bitter blow of missing out on MLS Cup 1999 with Los Angeles, Franchino gained a starting berth with the Galaxy for the opening stages of the 2000 campaign.
Then the Galaxy acquired Mexican star Luis Hernandez.
Franchino was forced to move east by the impending arrival of Hernandez, as the Galaxy needed to clear cap space for the Mexican international's arrival. Selected by New England in a special dispersal draft, Franchino moved to a side lacking the winning tradition nurtured by the Galaxy.
"It was frustrating when I left there," said Franchino. "I was the whipping boy they could shop around to bring in Luis Hernandez."
Five years is an eternity in professional sports, and Franchino won't see many familiar faces when he visits The Home Depot Center on Independence Day. Three players remain from his Galaxy stint: Peter Vagenas, Cobi Jones and Kevin Hartman.
Much in the mold of those Los Angeles teams, New England has cultivated a winning reputation, although New England has lately relied more on a traditional late-season surge and stingy playoff performances rather than regular-season success.
"They have a great organization out there, but there are only a few players left from when I was there," said Franchino. "There are similarities between the two organizations, but we've got something good going here. It took some time, but I consider us winners now and the chemistry is good here."
With a blazing start to the campaign, Franchino's contention bears merit. The Revolution captain points to the formidable team spirit started by Revolution coaches Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner.
"Give credit to our coaches," said Franchino. "There are teams with talent that don't win in this league. In New England, everyone rolls up their sleeves and goes to work every day. Everyone gets together and does their job."
With the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game near and the Revolution currently trailing FC Dallas in the overall league table, Franchino would like to see his side vault the Western Conference leaders to send Nicol and Mariner to Columbus to guide the MLS All-Star team that will face English side Fulham FC.
"We'd like to be at the top," said Franchino. "We'd love to get recognition for our coaches for the All-Star Game. Los Angeles is standing in our way. We have to come out and play."
As for any lingering doubts regarding the move east, Franchino believes the move was profitable on and off the field.
"I have roots here now," said Franchino. "I'm married and I have a child. It's great."
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.