The New England Revolution are continuing to make waves this offseason, adding their fourth free agent signing (and third international) on Thursday morning. The Revs announced the signing of Portuguese defender Jose Goncalves on loan from Swiss side FC Sion. Goncalves will be added to the roster pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa.
"We're pleased to add Jose to our squad," Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said. "We've been open about our desire to add another defender this off-season. With experience throughout Europe's top leagues, we believe Jose will come in and be a positive addition to our club's defense."
Goncalves represents the first of the promised defensive reinforcements of the 2013 offseason. At 27 and with plenty of European experience in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Scotland, and the Champions' League, the burly 6'2" center-back will be expected to add veteran expertise and competition to a defensive unit high on enthusiasm but low on depth and experience.
"What a great start to the New Year," Goncalves said. "I'm happy to play for the Revolution and start a new career chapter in Major League Soccer. The entire organization, along with my new teammates, was very welcoming when I came in November to see the facilities and meet with everyone. It was great to see how the club was run and only further supported my decision to come to New England. I'm ready to join my teammates and to start the hard work to make it a successful 2013 season. I also look forward connecting and to become a productive member of the New England community."
Goncalves' early career started at FC Basel in 2002 before he left for FC Winterhur in 2004, and then Venezia in 2005. Following a half-season in Italy, Goncalves returned to Switzerland for FC Thun, where he got his first taste of UEFA Champions' League action. Goncalves then spent five productive seasons in Scotland with Hearts, with one season spent in Germany on loan with Nuremberg. His tenure at both clubs was marred by injury, but when healthy, his play was generally exceptional.
In 2011, Goncalves returned to Switzerland with FC St. Gallen. However, when the club was relegated at the end of that season, he invoked a release clause in his contract and moved to FC Sion for the 2011-2012 season. Goncalves also has seven caps for the Portugal U-21 squad.
This move is a welcome one, finally adding some bodies to a very thin defense that conceded 44 goals and, more importantly, showed a crippling inability to close out games. Apart from the always-present fears that an international player won't acclimate to the nuances and idiosyncrasies of life in MLS, with Goncalves there also exists a legitimate fear that he could have injury problems. The man has had knee surgery before, and the turf surface at Gillette Stadium can be brutal on weak joints and legs.
Regardless, Goncalves is an example of the front office making good on a promise to bolster the back line. The work in that arena is far from over, but ahead of this month's SuperDraft, it's good to see that the club has already made a move in that direction rather than waiting until the preseason has already begun.