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Ralston, Revolution eager to kick off camp

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / February 1, 2009
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Yesterday afternoon, the Revolution had Gillette Stadium to themselves. One by one, players reported for physicals in anticipation of training camp beginning tomorrow.

They took the chance to catch up with each other, fill out paperwork, and start looking ahead to a new season.

The Chicago Fire ended the Revolution's 2008 campaign in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Since that series, roster changes for the Revolution have included the losses of central defender Michael Parkhurst to a Danish club, midfielder Khano Smith to Seattle Sounders FC in the MLS expansion draft, and forward Adam Cristman, who was traded to Kansas City.

While the three will be missed, midfielder Steve Ralston said the team cannot focus on the past.

"I feel like we have enough guys who can step in and fill their shoes, hopefully," Ralston said. "It's part of the business and we realize that every year there's going to be changes, and you have to move forward. You can't dwell on who's here and who's not."

Ralston is among the players eager to get started. He led the team in goals with eight, and added seven assists before suffering a broken right fibula in October. The offseason meant trips for rehab and treatment, but Ralston said he was cleared a few weeks ago to play and his leg "feels great."

"I feel like I haven't played in a long time," he said. "I'm itching to get back."

Coach Steve Nicol said the first week of camp will focus on conditioning. The team will be in New England until Feb. 22, then take training on the road to Texas and North Carolina. The season begins March 21 at San Jose, Calif.

Every player on the roster is expected to participate in camp. Forward Kheli Dube, a 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year nominee, was the only player missing from physicals. Dube is in Zimbabwe dealing with a personal matter, according to the team, but is expected to be at camp by the end of the week.

The Revolution continue to make adjustments to the roster. On Friday, they moved goalkeeper Brad Knighton and defender Chris Tierney from the developmental roster to the senior roster, and former University of Massachusetts goalkeeper Zack Simmons was signed to a developmental contract.

The team also may need to make room for a defender and a forward from Ghana, whom Nicol said were offered contracts after his recent trip there.

"We've got to get through accepting an offer, then once you do that, you have immigration stuff," Nicol said.

Midfielder Ryan Maxwell, who was the 15th pick in the first round of the recent draft, said he was eager to meet his teammates yesterday. Maxwell played at the University of Tampa and is from Jamaica.

"It's been overwhelming just to be here," he said. "I just can't wait to start playing with those guys to show what I can do."

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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