Chivas USA don't have a game this week, so it will be at least a week before we get to see newest Goat Shalrie Joseph in action for his new team. In the meantime, I spoke with Steve Stoehr, who is a writer and editor for SB Nation New England Revolution blog The Bent Musket about the trade. Considering Chivas and New England have yet to play this season (they'll do that finally at the end of the month) some insight from the other perspective is good in understanding what Chivas will be getting with Joseph. Thanks very much to Steve for answering my questions!
The Goat Parade asks The Bent Musket:
1. Did you have any indication that Shalrie Joseph would be traded? What has the initial reaction been among fans to losing him?
There were signs that Shalrie's days were numbered, but a midseason trade to Chivas? I'm not sure anyone saw this coming. The initial fan reaction has been mostly sadness, sprinkled with a generous helping of righteous anger. Some people have taken a step back and tried to see the business end of the deal, or understand that it might be best for the team, but the overwhelming reaction has been negative.2. Although Joseph has been among one of the best players in MLS over the past decade, what are his skills like now? Have they diminished significantly?
Shalrie's skills have not diminished. His vision and technical ability remain as sharp as ever, and he still has good positioning sense and tenacity on and off the ball. What's diminished is his athleticism. The man is 34 and sometimes looks like he moves with concrete in his shoes. Fortunately, he doesn't need to be overly mobile to do what he does best anymore; he can still move north to south relatively well, and he's still great at winning the ball, setting the tempo, and sparking the attack from the deep-lying midfield position.
Actually, it might behoove Chivas to move him to central defense. Before he was moved, there was a growing sentiment among people in the Gillette press box that Shalrie's future with the team lay in central defense. At that position, his diminishing mobility is no longer really an issue, and his technical ability, vision, and passing skills become incredible assets. He can still tackle, mark, and play the positioning game well, too, and working with a guy like Danny Califf could only help.
3. What is Joseph's best position at this point in his career?
Despite what I said above, his best position is still that of a deep-lying defensive midfielder. He does best working from four yards in front of the back line up to probably the edge of the final third, making occasional late runs into the box but generally staying in command of the middle of the pitch. He can be a great ball-winner, but the best thing for him is to be the passing outlet for someone else who wins the ball, and then put his foot on the ball, set the tempo, and ignite the attack. He can spray balls around the field with impunity, and he tends to play the simple passes that go unnoticed, but are integral to maintaining possession. That, and from the middle of the park he can be the leader that we in New England know that he is.
4. Any indications as to why Joseph was really traded? Is the Revolution front office making chess moves for the future? Has he dropped off in his on-field performance? Did he have friction with the new coaching staff?
On-field performance appears to be the greatest issue, as well as a look to the future. Jay Heaps is stripping this team down and rebuilding it anew; I guess it was only a matter of time before Joseph was no longer part of those plans. There hasn't been any word of friction with staff or FO, or of any ulterior motive. The only thing any of us hears is the party line: Shalrie wasn't going to be an everyday starter here, and he deserved to be one somewhere else.
5. Do you think Joseph can make the difference for Chivas this season and help them get into the playoffs?
In a word, no. I think Chivas already has a great defense, and while having Shalrie Joseph in your side is never a bad thing for your offense, he's not going to put the chances away, and it appears that's what Chivas is missing. Joseph has been the Revs' scoring leader before, but he's not a #10 or a #9, which were probably the biggest needs for the Goats at this point. You don't have to have to rely on him for that, because he can't consistently deliver at a double-digit goal level (in fact he's never broken 8 goals). Shalrie absolutely, 100% makes that team better. But is he the push that Chivas needed to make the playoffs? I'm not sure. Your chances have improved, but not dramatically.
Check out my answers to Steve's questions about Blair Gavin over at The Bent Musket here!
What do you think? Leave a comment below!