FOXBOROUGH - Jay Heaps has deep New England roots. Shalrie Joseph is a relative newcomer to the region. And both will be here at least for the next four years after the Revolution announced their contract extensions yesterday.
Heaps grew up playing as a striker, and basketball guard, in Longmeadow, then converted to right back with the Miami Fusion in 1999, and has been a starter since joining the Revolution in 2001. Joseph was born in Grenada, moved to Brooklyn as a teenager, and has been a starting defensive midfielder for the Revolution since 2003.
"I am real excited to be able to end my career in New England," Heaps said while preparing for tomorrow's road game against Toronto FC. "It speaks volumes that the team has guys coming back every year. We've got all the right players, management wants to keep us together, and that makes us feel that much more together. We have a tight-knit group and that helps us do well.
"It hasn't always been that way with teams in the MLS. You see a lot of turnover, guys changing teams all the time. It was like that in Miami and my first year in New England. If you start every year with new guys, it takes awhile to get the right focus, the same focus. What we have is handed down through the Kraft organization, through the Patriots, in terms of winning. Our goal every year is the MLS Cup."
Joseph hoped to extend his contract earlier in the season, but talks broke down. Negotiations resumed after the Sept. 15 roster deadline, concluding in a deal that will make Joseph "one of the top-10 highest-paid players in the league," according to his agent, Ron Waxman. The Revolution failed to sign a foreign player by the deadline, so they were able to use salary cap space to add to Joseph's offer.
"It might not show up that way, but with the signing bonus Shalrie will be in the top 10, and that's what we were looking for," Waxman said. "It's a slightly better deal than what we turned down earlier."
Before the season, the Revolution offered Joseph a contract worth in the low-$300,000 range for the first year and peaking at $410,000 with incentives.
"I am very happy, I want to spend the rest of my career here," Joseph said. "I came up here and I've grown to be a better player and a better person here."
The Revolution (14-8-7, 49 points) conclude the regular season at Toronto (6-17-6, 24 points), then meet the New York Red Bulls in a home-and-away playoff series Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.
"We love to play for each other and [coach] Stevie Nicol on this team," Joseph said. "The coaches are at a point where they are building something and we are going to start winning trophies. I want to be an integral part of that, of helping the franchise win trophies. It's important for us to win the MLS Cup, and it will happen this year if we do what we can do. We have the nucleus of guys and we should be able to win it."
Joseph was the most outwardly upset Revolution player following a 3-2 loss to Columbus last Saturday, the first time the team had dropped two straight this year.
"I was frustrated and I let it show because I know how important it is to be playing well going into the playoffs," Joseph said. "We were not concentrating for the whole game. I gave the ball away and we didn't close them down on the [deciding] goal. To lose in the last five to seven minutes was very frustrating. But we are feeling great and we are looking forward to the next game."
Taylor Twellman will suit up for the Revolution tomorrow after playing for the United States national team in a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Basel Wednesday. Twellman missed his scheduled flight to Zurich Sunday because of food poisoning. He arrived Monday.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.