The signing of Matt Pickens was more than a move to add an experienced goalkeeper. It was a statement that the New England Revolution front office is always looking to strengthen the roster.
The signing of 31-year-old Pickens increases the roster to 28 players, two away from the maximum. General Manager Michael Burns, who spoke to media before Saturday's game, claimed that the team will look to fill the empty spots in the coming weeks.
"We're still trying to strengthen every position on the field and we still have two roster spots to go, and that's without making any other additional moves," Burns explained.
Currently on a 270 minute scoreless streak, the Revs will focus most of their attention on adding another midfielder and forward. More than just depth pieces, the front office is looking to add a player that could challenge for a starting position.
"We're not just looking for guys that we think are going to be role guys," Burns commented. "We're trying to find another player or two that we think can come in and be a starter."
The search for players will include an international scouting trip scheduled for this week. Burns didn't reveal the location of the trip or the names of any prospects, but he did feel comfortable enough to say that the club has targeted a number of players. The Revs currently have two open international slots.
The Revs also have a domestic option available in the form of former captain Shalrie Joseph. The Revolution legend rejoined the club on trial during a preseason trip in Tucson, but an injury against the Chicago Fire limited his ability to make an impression. Now fully healthy, Joseph is hoping to earn his second go-around with the Revs.
"Shalrie's been great," Burns said. "I give Shalrie a lot of credit for him to come back here and be willing to go on trial. (It) says a lot about him, says a lot about his character because that's not easy for an older player with his resume to come in and say ‘OK, I'm going to show you what I can and can't do.'"
Burns noted that Joseph clearly understands that "he's closer to the end line than the starting line." Still, the 35-year-old midfielder might be an asset to the Revs, both on the field and in the locker room.
"We are a young team," Burns noted. "We're trying to get a couple more pieces (with) some leadership and some experience. For Shalrie it would be more all-encompassing in terms of what we think and what we hope he can do on the field, but also what we think he can provide in the locker room."
Burns claimed that the Revs will be looking to make a decision on Joseph later this week because holding him any longer would be unfair to the player. Signing Joseph might not be as easy as saying that they want him, however, because of the way that MLS operates.
"Obviously, there is no free agency in MLS," Burns commented. "Although he's not with Seattle, there's not a 100 percent guarantee that, even if we wanted to sign him, he would end up in New England. So we have to work that though with the league."
Burns, who is well aware of the Revolution's current record, doesn't feel any immediate pressure to sign Joseph, or any other player. After all, finding the right player is more important than simply filling roster spots.
"In an ideal world you'd have 30 guys on the roster from the first day of preseason, but that's almost never the case," Burns said. "Our window doesn't even close until May 6, so we do have plenty of time to add pieces here."
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