FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A multitude of reasonable factors prompted New England to ship out captain Shalrie Joseph to Chivas USA on Wednesday morning.
Not a single one of them made the decision to trade the face of the franchise any easier, according to Revolution general manager Michael Burns.
“It's difficult," Burns told MLSsoccer.com. "You hear people say that all of the time, but this one really was genuinely very difficult. He's meant so much to the organization for so long and he's done so much for this organization. I can't say enough. He was ultra-professional in how he took the news. We will always have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person and as a player.”
That respect played a critical role in the way the move ultimately unfolded. Joseph has contributed so much to the franchise during his nine-and-a-half years with the club that Burns and head coach Jay Heaps wanted to examine a potential swap from all angles before making the final decision to part ways with the Revolution captain on Tuesday night.
“It's not a decision we took lightly,” Heaps said. “It's not a decision we came to on a whim. There was a lot of organizational thought process behind it. In the end, you weigh the pros versus the cons, where the club needs to be and where we're going. Tough decisions need to be made, but they're not taken lightly, that's for sure.”
Heaps had already made perhaps the most crucial decision to the entire process when he decided that Joseph would not have his name permanently etched on the team sheet from week to week. That choice – as illustrated by Joseph's omission from the starting XI in four of the past five matches, though he missed one through injury – left the Revs to weigh the potential benefits of retaining Joseph as a spot starter given his Designated Player status and the possible pitfalls that could emerge if he didn't see regular match action.
“When we looked at it, we know Shalrie and we know he wants to play and play all of the time, whether it is in practices or in games,” Burns said. “An opportunity presented itself with Chivas where they really wanted him.”
In these particular circumstances, Chivas USA's desire to acquire Joseph tipped the scales. The move allowed the Revs to acquire some pieces to continue to build for the future (midfielder Blair Gavin, a second-round SuperDraft pick in 2013 and an undisclosed amount of allocation money) and permitted Joseph to join a club where he will presumably start more frequently.
Although the trade ensures Joseph will not conclude his career with the Revolution, Heaps said Joseph's transition to the Red-and-White does not alter his legacy with the team or obscure his contribution to the club over the past decade.
“That guy's a legend,” Heaps said. “He'll always be a legend. He'll always be a Rev when it's all said and done. In sports, you want everything to be a storybook ending. When you look at how careers and organization, they may cross paths for a little while, they may separate for a little while, but, in the end, every fan here knows – and I'm one of them – that Shalrie will be a Rev.”