Shalrie Joseph traded? Say it ain’t so!

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For so many years, Shalrie Joseph was the New England Revolution.

I was in the stadium almost 10 years ago when Joseph, a young tangle of long legs and floppy hair, scored his first MLS goal. That was in 2003. By the next year, he was the New England Revolution’s heart and soul.

Joseph and coach Steve Nicol embodied everything those teams were about. They were one part old school tactics, one part team chemistry, one part talent and three parts spit-and-grit effort.

It worked in MLS back then. With Taylor Twellman around to make mayhem in the opposition penalty area, with steady Matt Reis in goal and with Joseph around to boss the midfield, New England went to three consecutive MLS Cups, in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

By 2007, I was writing an annual column asking why, why, why the U.S. soccer fan and media establishment simply could not, or would not ever consider a holding midfielder as potential league MVP. It was an argument built around Joseph, because at least a couple of those years I thought he damn sure deserved it.

As we know, nothing lasts forever. Joseph’s has played the last of 261 matches as a New England Revolution man.

Today comes news that he has been sent to Chivas USA for Blair Gavin, a second-round draft pick and the frustratingly nebulous “allocation money,” in which the lack of specific information always prevents more cogent analysis of a trade value.

(While it’s tough to take at one level, I think it’s been clear that Joseph’s performance is missing something this year. I’ll have more later on why this can’t be considered a complete shocker — even though it was. Well, I think you know what I mean.)