FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The face of the franchise isn’t going anywhere just yet.
New England captain Shalrie Joseph will return to the Revolution in 2012 after signing a new contract with the club on Saturday night.
Joseph put pen to paper on his new deal before the Revolution unveiled their new jerseys for next season at the Gillette Stadium pro shop. Revolution president Brian Bilello subsequently announced to the assembled crowd that the 33-year-old out-of-contract midfielder had signed a new pact with the team.
The move ends months of speculation about Joseph's future with the Revs and guarantees that the perennial All-Star will play a tenth season with the only MLS side he has ever known.
“We've been working on it for the last couple of weeks now trying to dot the i’s and cross the t's, but we finally got it done today,” Joseph told MLSsoccer.com. “It's just been signed. It feels great. I can rest assured knowing that I'm going to be here for 2012 and beyond to try to get us back to our winning ways.”
Both parties had expressed their desire to strike a new deal after the season concluded, but Bilello said it took a few weeks to sort through the complexities of the deal and reach an agreement that suited everyone involved with the process.
“It was a priority for Michael [Burns, Revolution general manager],” Bilello said. “It was a priority for me. With Jay [Heaps, Revolution coach] coming in, it was a priority for him to have [Joseph] on the field. We sat through it, went through everything with the coaching staff, the technical staff and all the way up to ownership. Everyone was on the same page that we needed to get Shalrie back.”
Although terms of the deal were not disclosed per league policy, Joseph will count as a Designated Player in 2012. Bilello said the club did not flinch about shifting Joseph's status when it realized that his new deal would require the DP tag.
“In terms of him being on a Designated Player contract, we knew – going through the process with him – that is what it would take to bring him back,” Bilello said. “When we talked about it internally and all the way up to ownership, the mandate was quite clear: [Revolution investor/operators Robert and Jonathan Kraft] wanted Shalrie back. They trusted Michael to go through the negotiations and do what needed to be done, but they authorized us to make a Designated Player offer if that's what it would take it get him back. It did and we're excited to have him back.”
Joseph celebrated his new contract by modeling the new Revolution kit with teammates Diego Fagundez, Matt Reis and Chris Tierney and signing autographs for the fans on Saturday night. With Reis' return already booked on Thursday and his deal now sorted out, Joseph said he hopes to do his part to help the Revs climb up the table next season.
“I'm glad Matt re-signed too and that he's going to be here,” Joseph said. “He had an awesome year last year. I look forward to him being healthy again. With Jay making the changes and the key additions we need, I think we're going to start to get back to our ways. We're going to start winning and start getting back to our tradition of getting back to MLS Cup and trying to win one.”