Joseph, Alston Sent Home from Revs Camp

New England’s Shalrie Joseph has been one of the better players in Major League Soccer during the past eight years, and arguably the best holding midfielder in the league during that span.

He helped lead the Revs to three straight MLS Cup appearances (2005-07) and is a four-time MLS Best XI selection (2005-09).

In 2007 and ’08, Glasgow giants Celtic made repeated bids for the dominating, 6-3 midfielder, but had their offers—of $1 million in ’07 and $2 million in ’08—rejected by MLS.

Joseph’s on-field performance has never been questioned, but last April, we saw the first chink in his off-field armor, as the Grenadian left the Revs to join the MLS substance abuse and behavioral health program.

He returned to New England in May and finished the year without incident, but now he appears to have gone off the rails again. Over the weekend, New England coach Steve Nicol dismissed Joseph, the Revs’ captain, and young defender Kevin Alston, from the team’s Orlando, Fla., training camp.

No one from the Revs has offered any specifics on the reason for the suspension, but vice president of player personnel Mike Burns, when asked if the pair would return to the team, New England  said, “Not for this trip.”

Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis, who, along with Joseph, is the longest-serving player on the Revs roster had this to say:

“Every year you have to deal with things that are out of your control. As a team, the main thing we have to worry about is the guys who are with us, the guys who are here. We have to prepare for the season. It’s very unfortunate, very distracting, something I think could have been avoided. But we have to move on and we can’t stop doing what we’re doing to get ready for the season just because two guys aren’t here. So, we’ll go from there.”

That “something I think could have been avoided” comment is interesting. How so? A towel at the foot of the door? A spritz of Binaca?  (We kid, we kid.)

Nicol didn’t have much to say, but if we read between the lines of what he did say, we conclude that the Revs’ coach is ticked off:

“It’s not ideal, but everyone is professional here and you don’t want any of your teammates not to be here. But, at the same time, everyone is a good pro and, at the end of the day, you blow the whistle and roll the ball out and you play. That’s the main concern.”

He’s not making a whole lot of sense there, but he does repeat the phrase about everyone being a professional, seeming (in a soundbite version of sputtering rage) to call into question the professionalism of the suspended pair.

This is a big setback for Alston too. The 22-year-old defender received his first U.S. national-team call-up in 2010, and this definitely was not the way he wanted to kick off his 2011 season.

Schilawski Schools Toronto

Sebastien Le Toux has some competition for player of the week honors in New England Revolution rookie Zack Schilawski.

Saturday night, the ninth overall pick out of Wake Forest joined former U.S. internationals Brian Maisonneuve and Pat Noonan as the only MLS rookies to score a hat-trick, burying three goals in the Revs’ 4-1 rout of troubled Toronto FC.

Schilawski’s goals came in an 11-minute span and canceled out Dwayne DeRosario’s opener for the visitors.

Here are the highlights (excuse the audio, which is several seconds behind). 

Cinical finish on the second goal, but we may have to get the Dubious Goals Panel to rule on that third one, which looked like it may have gone in off of TFC defender Nana Attakora. Still, a fine performance by the Revs youngster, who became the first rookie in league history to bag three goals in his home debut.

Toronto is off to a brutal start under new coach Preki, with two losses, six goals against and one for. Two of the goals in this one were direct results of TFC turnovers in the defensive third. Preki was never a defensive specialist in his day, but we’re sure the players—Nick Garcia and Joseph Nane—got an earful from him about their gaffes.

On the other bench, New England’s Steve Nicol picked up his 100th coaching victory, making him just the third MLS coach to reach the 100-win milestone, along with Seattle’s Sigi Schmid (126) and U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley (124).