Best XI – Shalrie Joseph
Yes, I will admit, I have a great job. I get paid to watch soccer all day and meet some really nice people involved in the beautiful game. For almost 20 years I’ve interviewed some really cool, and at times not so cool, people in the sports world. Unfortunately, most fans never get the same opportunity. Whatever they know of these guys/gals stems from what the athletes accomplish in the sports arena or what they say during an interview. Let me tell you something, I’ve learned more about the person I’m interviewing during pre-interview and post-interview chats then anything else. The “off-camera” stuff. That’s why I’ve decided to start what I call, Best XI. From time to time I’ll kick 11 questions at a certain player, coach, or club official, to give you a better idea on what they’re all about. I might stick with the same questions each time or I might change them a bit, depending on the circumstances. For the first installment of Best XI, I’ve decided to go with the player who I believe is the best all-around player in the MLS, Shalrie Joseph. Folks, this is one super cool cat. Always willing to do an interview no matter what. Last year, following a tough late-season loss by the New England Revolution, Shalrie, tired as heck, saw me in the parking lot outside of Gillette Stadium and was willing to do an interview in cold, wet conditions at about 11:00pm! TRUST ME, not every player would do that. If I were to vote right now for the MLS MVP I’d say I’m leaning towards Shalrie. He’s the glue that’s keeping the Revs together as they make their playoff run. If the Revs reach the playoffs without Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston, how is he not the most valuable player in the league? With New England once again going through a injury-filled campaign, Shalrie has been forced to “morph” himself into different roles on the pitch in order to keep the Revs afloat. Case in point, the Grenada defensive mid has already established a new personal mark in goals scored and assists in a single-season just to help out New England’s anemic offense. He was selected to the All-Star game a sixth time this season and is certain to be selected an MLS “Best XI” performer for the fourth time in his career. If there’s one player who deserves to be in Europe right now it’s Shalrie. He’s been linked with several European clubs, including Birmingham City. Thankfully that never happened because I’m an Aston Villa man! HA! Still, as you’ll soon find out, if he had his choice, he’d be playing for one of the clubs in London. So without further adieu, here’s Shalrie Joseph, this week’s Best XI. Best XI 1. Who was your favorite player growing up? Why? I definitely loved growing up and watching Maradona. Growing up in the Caribbean, I think everybody is a fan of Maradonna. But when I got to college, it was more Zidane than anybody else; I just loved watching him play. 2. If you weren’t a soccer player, what would you be doing right now? Honestly, I never had a back-up if I didn't play soccer. I always thought soccer was my dream - soccer was the one thing I loved doing. I never had a back-up plan - it was soccer or bust. 3. Most embarrassing and proudest moment in soccer? I don't really have an embarrassing moment, but in practice we had some fun when I slipped on a ball. I think the whole team laughed for a good 5 minutes and practice was stopped for about 10 minutes, all because I tripped over a ball. We had a great laugh about it. My proudest moments were probably graduating from St. John's, and playing in the Final Four against (Pat) Noonan and Indiana. That's probably one of the biggest moments in my career. 4. You miss the team plane to the championship title game. You have to drive cross-country to get to the match. Your car can only fit 3 more people to keep you company. Which 3 famous people, past or present, are going with you? Why? Khano Smith (former Revolution teammate), my girlfriend and Lil' Wayne. 5. Something about you people would be surprised to know? That I'm a pretty laid back and chill guy off the field. I just love being at home. I have two dogs - most people are surprised I'm a dog lover. I just love being at home, chilling out and playing with my dogs. 6. What’s the first thing you bought when you signed your first professional contract? I upgraded my car. I really tried to give my mom something; I got her a phone. That's what she really wanted. But the big thing was to upgrade my car and rims. 7. Aside from your current team, which is your favorite soccer club? Arsenal 8. A meteor is about to slam into Earth, you’re allowed to take only 3 things with you on a spaceship out of here, what do you take? iPod/iTouch - they're the same thing. My dogs, because I would go crazy if I didn't have a companion. And probably a TV. 9. If you can change anything about your career, what would it be? The biggest regret I have so far is not being more patient with my national team decision, in terms of just hanging on and waiting for the break to play for the United States National Team. It's something I think about all the time. It's something I kind of regret - to a point. I look at it as I made a decision and something I'll live with. I represented my hometown and the country where I grew up, and I made my mom proud, and I made my grandmother proud by representing my home country. So there are still positive aspects. 10. The one player during your career that you’ve said to yourself, “Damn, I can’t believe on the same pitch as that guy!” Who and when? Two of the guys I always look forward to playing with at all-star games are Landon (Donovan) and DeRo (Dwyane De Rosario). But the Madrid trip we took, when I played against Zidane, was one of the biggest moments of my life. My jaw was definitely open and I was in awe watching how talented those guys were. 11. Teammate (club or national team) you’d call to have a good time? Khano Smith You’d trust to leave your kids with? Well, dogs in my case. Khano has babysat my dogs, so maybe him. But Jay Heaps has a chocolate lab and he's the one who told me about them from the beginning. So I would leave my dogs with him. Grateful he’s on your team? Steve Ralston. To this day, he's the best professional I've been around and the best player I've probably played with so far in my career.