HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10: Midfielder Kheli Dube #11 of the New England Revolution celebrates his second half score against the Houston Dynamo with Pat Phelan #28 and Emmanuel Osei #5 at Robertston Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
MLS has released its list of eligible players for this year's Re-Entry Draft, and it features three New England Revolution players. Ryan Cochrane, Kheli Dube, and Pat Phelan will be available for selection by other MLS clubs after their options for the 2012 season were declined. Stage one of the draft will take place on Monday, December 5th.
The immediate takeaway from this news is that Shalrie Joseph is not on the list. That can really only mean one thing - he's coming back. As it stands, he either has to sign with the Revs (for whatever amount of money), seek a deal overseas, or rot in oblivion a la Dave van den Bergh. The latter isn't even an option, I think, for a man with Shalrie's competitive spirit, especially since he still has the ability to excel at this level. Going overseas is always an option - and we know he wanted it a few years ago when Celtic came calling - but he's quickly moving into a realm where his age could be prohibitive for clubs looking for him. All roads point to a return here.
As for the three featured, it's tough to say that any of the names are surprising. Cochrane simply was not a fit here. While it's unfair to single out any one defender as the cause of New England's backline woes, the fact is that Cochrane made a number of high-profile errors that led directly to goals. Now, the fact that he is entering the draft doesn't necessarily mean he's gone for next year - but I think that's a pretty good bet.
Kheli Dube is a bit of a sad story, really. He didn't get a shot to prove his worth to the team this year after suffering whiplash in a car accident early in the season. His body of work, though, isn't great: 72 appearances, 45 starts, 14 goals, and 9 assists in four seasons with the Revs. He was one of the top scorers in 2009 with eight goals, but scored four of them in one match. The final product has never really been there with Dube and he just isn't worth the $99k in guaranteed compensation he made in 2011.
Pat Phelan is probably the one guy on the list that has the best chance of renegotiating with the Revs and coming back; by definition, that means he might also be most likely to be selected. Phelan is a quintessential Steve Nicol man, at least in the mold of Nicol's last two or three seasons: tough, tenacious, and hard-working, but ultimately deficient in technique and skill. For every good quality he has, it is easy to find a poor one. He runs for 90 minutes; his tackles often cross the line into the nearly-criminal, making him a walking card liability. He has a good positioning sense in midfield on defense; he isn't a proficient passer. He has a rocket of a shot; he rarely puts it on frame. Phelan is the type of guy that a team lacking steel could use as a third or fourth option in the center of midfield, but the Revs probably aren't that team anymore.
If anyone is wondering why more players weren't made available, it's important to remember the rules of the draft. Of all the guys who had the requisite age and tenure to be made available, the three listed made the most sense. Darrius Barnes, Chris Tierney, Matt Reis (I think), and Kevin Alston would also have been eligible had their options been declined, but that was never going to be a good idea for this team anyway.
Watch this space, as we'll be talking a little bit about who the Revs should look at picking up in the coming days.