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Joseph sidelined indefinitely

Revs enforcer has surgery after nightclub altercation

Posted: Wednesday September 20, 2006 5:20PM; Updated: Wednesday September 20, 2006 5:20PM
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Midfielder Shalrie Joseph was voted team MVP by New England last season.
Midfielder Shalrie Joseph was voted team MVP by New England last season.
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Shalrie Joseph, perhaps MLS' best midfield enforcer, will be "out for several weeks" during the league's stretch run after undergoing surgery for a severe hand injury suffered during an altercation at a Boston-area nightclub last Thursday, sources close to Joseph told SI.com on Wednesday afternoon.

Joseph lacerated two fingers on his right hand when he was shoved during the scuffle and broke his fall by crashing his hand onto a glass-covered floor, explained the sources, who maintained that neither Joseph nor anyone in his party (including some Revolution teammates) started the fight.

Joseph's injuries included tendon and nerve damage. A team source confirmed that Joseph would likely miss the last five games of the regular season, which concludes on Oct. 15. He would then be re-evaluated before the start of the MLS playoffs on Oct. 21.

The incident, which took place during the Revolution's bye week, is the latest bad news in a season that has been defined by unexpectedly mediocre play, salary complaints from MLS' reigning MVP (Taylor Twellman) and criticism of MLS by Clint Dempsey and Joseph's agent for not accepting transfer bids to European clubs (Charlton Athletic for Dempsey and Celtic for Joseph).

Joseph, a 28-year-old Grenadian international who grew up in Brooklyn and played at St. John's, became one of MLS' top players last season and helped lead the Revolution to the MLS Cup final (which it lost 1-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy). While Twellman was voted MVP of the league, it was Joseph who was awarded the team's MVP trophy. His hard-driving midfield presence recently drew the attention of Celtic, one of Europe's most storied clubs, whose $1 million bid for Joseph was turned down by MLS.

If Joseph is out for the rest of the season it would be a crippling blow for the Revolution, which has yet to win a trophy of any kind and may be in the final year of its window for a championship. Many of the Revs' top players (including Joseph, Dempsey and Pat Noonan) may be on their way out after the season, due either to overseas interest or more lucrative contracts elsewhere in MLS.

New England (8-8-11) was in third place in MLS' Eastern Conference heading into Wednesday night's game at the fifth-place New York Red Bulls. However, the Revolution (35 points) were only three points inside the playoff zone, fighting with Kansas City (33) and New York (32) for two postseason berths.

Until Wednesday Joseph had missed only one game this season, and his absence (due to a suspension for yellow-card accumulation) showed in a 3-0 loss to last-place Columbus on Sept. 2.