TUKWILA, Wash. — As the Seattle Sounders officially opened training camp on the 2014 season, there was at least one conspicuous absence: midfielder Shalrie Joseph.
The 11-year MLS veteran, who has been named MLS Best XI four times, was not in attendance, casting serious doubt as to whether or not he'll suit up for the Sounders again.
“Shalrie is still a member of our team, but right now he’s not really in our plans,” head coach Sigi Schmid told a large group of reporters following the morning session. “As we move forward, we’ll see how that resolves itself. I’m not sure what the ultimate resolution will be, but right now he’s not in our plans for this season.”
If this does indeed mark the end of Joseph’s Seattle career, he’ll be leaving a mixed legacy. The 35-year-old midfielder joined the team just before the start of the 2013 season after a trade with Chivas USA. Although he was nursing an injury and was admittedly out of shape, the Sounders had hoped he would be the final piece for a potential MLS Cup run.
As it turned out, Joseph was never able to get fully healthy. The ex-Grenada international never started more than two straight games, was unable to even play in more than three consecutive games and didn’t appear in the Sounders’ final 11 regular-season matches. He finished the year with just one goal and no assists. His likely final appearance was a surprise start at forward against the Portland Timbers in the second stage of the Western Conference semifinals.
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Still, he managed to make at least one lasting contribution when he agreed to restructure his Designated Player contract in order to allow Seattle to make room for Clint Dempsey. As part of that deal, Joseph signed a contract extension through 2014. Per MLS roster rules, teams are allowed to buy out the contract of one guaranteed player during the offseason.