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From the halls of Foxboro Stadium…

Why Shalrie Joseph Should Not Be a Captain

Posted by Mike Marshall on September 9, 2010

Lost in the exuberance of a 3-1 home win over the Seattle Sounders that kept their flickering playoff hopes alive was the fact the New England Revolution were very fortunate their team captain wasn’t thrown out of the match for slapping Sounders defender Patrick Ianni on the neck.  Not that Ianni doesn’t deserve to be slapped in the neck – he’s pretty much a 6-foot-1, neon green penis wearing cleats – but if there’s one player on the Revolution that can’t slap him, it’s Shalrie Joseph.

Not only is he the team’s best player, but he’s also the captain – the one person whose lead that every other player on the team is supposed to follow.  There he was, in the team’s biggest game of the season, down by a goal in the 2nd half, losing his temper and striking a penis player on another team.  We’ve all seen referees pull out a red card for less.

It was the antithesis of what a true captain is supposed to be.  It was a selfish, “me first” act that had little regard for the potential impact on his team.

Then again, this isn’t the first time Shalrie has exhibited such an attitude.

What other conclusion can you draw about a player who was suspended for 1/5th of the season for smoking pot?  He knew it was against the rules.  He knew he’d be tested.  He knew that he was one of the two most important players on the team.  He did it anyway.

Even if you view marijuana as harmless, for Shalrie it wasn’t.  He put his own personal wants and needs ahead of those of his team.  He apologized for it, and as far as I’m concerned – apology accepted.  I’m willing to forgive, but every time he pulls something like he did Saturday night, he makes it hard to forget.

And let’s also remember that it wasn’t that long ago that Joseph relinquished his captaincy and asked for a trade in the middle of a contract renegotiation.  I’m not saying that Shalrie didn’t have the right or that he wasn’t justified in doing it.  But it’s another example of a time when Shalrie came first.

Is that really what you’re looking for out of a leader?  Out of a captain?

Admittedly, I’m not around the team as much these days as I used to be.  Maybe the team really responds to him and half the roster would be willing to run naked through Bass Pro Shop with targets painted on their backs for his amusement.  But based on the fairly quiet, reserved Shalrie who spoke so softly that I could barely hear him at times on my tape recorder, I’m willing to guess he’s more of the leader by example type.  And that’s fine – as long he’s setting the right examples.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case.

Listen, I’m not saying that I want him gone – I just don’t think he should be the captain of the team.  He’s just about my favorite Revs player ever.  And no one denies that Joseph is a tremendous player by MLS standards.  You could easily build an argument that he’s the best player in the history of the franchise, and one of the best central midfielders in the history of the league.  But that doesn’t make him a leader.

I know – he plays hard, he plays hurt, and he plays with tremendous passion.  But that doesn’t make him a leader, either – just an outstanding foot soldier.  And not all outstanding foot soldiers are cut out to be Generals.

5 Responses to “Why Shalrie Joseph Should Not Be a Captain”

  1. Sean said

    Hi Mike,

    I think lost in your attempt to create a controversial story is that the Shalrie/Ianni incident triggered the REV comeback – a three goal comeback over a ten minute span.

    Prior to the incident the REV’s were entirely listless and showed no evidence that they would make a comeback. Rather, it looked more and more likely that the REVS didn’t care too much about a loss…it was just another defeat in a write-off season.

    I think Shalrie’s action probably exemplify why he should be captain more than anything else. I mean how often do you see a coach get ejected for yelling at the ref and it inspires his team to “light a fire”.

    Clearly Shalrie’s incident did this — but I think it’s also important to note that he didn’t just slap a player — it was a clear two-way incident where he slapped out at Ianni as Ianni was stomping his foot. Not only did this incident fire up the REVS, but Shalrie lead the comeback with an assist of the game-tying goal.

    I think you should get off you moral preaching stand, and give the guy a little more credit — he is with out a doubt the best player in Revolution History (3 time Best XI, 7-time All-Star) and one of the top 5 players in league history. Give him a break!

    Who would you rather be captain on this roster?

    I didn’t read any articles about Joe Franchino not deserving to be captain…if ever there was an article that should have been written about somebody not a good captain fit — that was it.

  2. SoccerG said

    I will echo what Sean said and pose the same question. Who would you rather be captain? Matt Reisis the only other option and he supports Shalrie being captain. So, get off the high horse and support this team. They need it!

  3. Mike Marshall said

    Hi, Sean. Thanks for the response.

    From my seat, whether or not Shalrie’s slap “worked” or not is irrelevant, because at the time he did it, he had no way to know that he wouldn’t be sent off for it. He potentially could have left his team in worse position after the slap (…down their best player) than before it it. That’s not leadership in my mind.

    There’s also a difference between a coach “lighting a fire” and a player doing it. If Steve Nicol had been tossed, then it hurts the Revs, but it doesn’t cripple them. Losing Shalrie in that situation would have crippled the team for the remainder of that game and the next one.

    Who should be captain? Not sure there’s a real good answer. Matt Reis wouldn’t be an awful choice. Maybe Cory Gibbs? Either way, the fact that there’s not an obvious replacement doesn’t mean Shalrie is a good choice – it just means that the Revs have an on-field leadership void.

  4. Sean said

    Hi Mike,

    I understand what you are trying to say…but Shalrie’s incident — which I think you still fail to admit occurred simultaneously to him being stomped on his foot…so if he is getting a red, the other guy is too. If Shalrie doesn’t do something to spark the REVS, they are going to lose anyway – with or without him…if they lose that game, there playoff hopes are done (from slim to none)…so he had to take a calculated risk/reward.

    Second, it’s not Shalrie that picks to be captain — it’s either the coaching staff or other players. I think you need to look at Shalrie’s body of work, and not the past 6 months. Shalrie, beyond being their best player in club history, has lead the team to the MLS playoffs the last 7 consecutive seasons — no other club has this record. So during one bad year, you want to basically kick him to the curb. If your needed to start some conflict, why don’t you pick the Front Office? Or players that don’t play (TT or EJ)?

    Shalrie is a blessing to have on the REVS, without him they would be competing with DC for the worst record in league history. Absent Perovic, and maybe Alston and/or Osei, they may be the worst assembled MLS team in league history. I feel bad for Shalrie (and Perovic to certain extant), watching them play it’s is if they need to pass then receive their own pass for there to be any resemblance to soccer.

    If you strip Shalrie of his captaincy that would be basically telling him GoodBye…that would be the worst move, even the worst MLS franchise could make…but you know what, I think it would be the best thing that could happen to Shalrie.

    And lastly Cory Gibbs?? — you can’t be serious

  5. Brian said

    Cory Gibbs as captain? The same guy who took an insanely stupid red card near the sideline of midfield a few weeks ago? He’s your idea of restrained and wise leadership?

    Reis is the only viable alternative as captain and unfortunately, he’s a goalkeeper, which isn’t really the ideal spot to put someone you want to have the guy charged with lighting a fire under your team. There’s a reason most captains are center mids or center backs.

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