DAVID BECKHAM is in
his own galaxy as a superstar, but Shalrie Joseph may be MLS's best
midfielder—an unyielding tackler, a sublime passer, a terror on penalty kicks.
Joseph plays a tough game born of tough roots, and he's leading the New England
Revolution into Sunday's MLS final against the Houston Dynamo. Sound familiar?
It's a rematch of last year. Houston won. Joseph, titleless at 29, has not
On Sunday's game
This is my third MLS Cup. I don't want to keep going to the final and not
winning. I don't want that to be my legacy.
I started when I was four in Grenada. By high school, soccer was an obsession.
I didn't want to go to school, I didn't want to work. All I thought about was
My father died of cancer when I was a baby. I am an only child, and I was
raised by women. I think that made me wise and rational.
On the U.S.'s cold
war invasion of Grenada in 1983
I was five, and I remember the bombings and the sirens and everything so loud.
Bombs came down right near our home—you could feel the ground shaking. My
grandmother told me to hide under the bed, and I stayed there with my eyes
closed and covered my ears.
Coming to the U.S.
My mother [Ann Marie] moved to Brooklyn when I was two, and I was raised by my
grandmother and my aunts in Grenada. She left for a better job—she worked as a
sales manager in a clothing store. She came back to Grenada at least once a
year to see me, but it was tough not having her there. In my teens, I started
getting in trouble, hanging with a bad crowd, fighting a lot. My mother thought
my coming to America would be good.
On life in
Kids in [ Grenada] think, America is sooo rich. But we lived in a tough
neighborhood in Crown Heights. There were people on the streets doing all kinds
of stuff to make that quick paper. That money is tempting, but my mother kind
of held my hand and told me that wasn't what she wanted for me. So I played
soccer, at Wingate High, and went to college [St. John's, where he majored in
sports management] and then to MLS.
Pickup games in
Tough and physical. The Jamaicans against the Haitians or the Puerto Ricans or
the Italians. No one wanted to look bad to their people. I got hurt all the
time. I once got an elbow that broke two teeth.
On the Revolution
I'm the bully [laughs]. Guys play pranks, like putting itching powder or
shaving cream in your shoes. But no one dares do it to me. I tell people who to
pull the pranks on.
His sports hero
Allen Iverson, for the way he sacrifices his body, mind and spirit on the
court. He was raised by a single parent in a tough environment. So was I.
Basketball was his passion and his outlet to stay out of the streets and make a
better life for himself. Same with me and soccer.