Emmanuel Osei. Corey Gibbs. Didier Domi. Ryan Cochrane. Franco Coria. John Lozano.
For the last four years each of these defenders were on the Revs roster and failed to stick around for the long haul for a multitude of reasons. One can look at our mid 2000s success and point to a consistent back line anchored by a talented, smart, composed center back in Michael Parkhurst. Through the draft the New England Revolution made it a goal to go out and aquire quality backs in A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Darrius Barnes, and Kevin Alston. By converting midfielders like Chris Tierney and Stephen McCarthy we've also seen additional serviceable players consistently feature for the Revs defense. Looking at our records and defensive stats the past few years it hasn't been enough. A mix of draftees and acquisitions appear to be the recipe for a solid MLS backline; yet our acquisitions have been sub par for years.
The previously mentioned players who are still on this team have great potential. Most of them are relatively young, athletic and accrued experience on some poor Revolution teams. Their minutes, unfortunately, at many times were dictated by a lack of options rather willing selection. What these guys lacked as they set out to develop in their career's infancy was an experienced veteran center back who consistently saw minutes and performed well. A leader; someone to emulate and learn from.
Enter Jose Goncalves...the biggest snub of the 2013 MLS All Star Game and by many accounts in the front running for Defender of the Year. When's the last time you heard the Fort chant "MVP" at a Revs defender in August?
The Portuguese national Goncalves came in from Swiss side FC Sion on loan this January with an option to buy. By May he helped turned one of the worst defenses in MLS into the leagues stingiest. The Revs have conceded the fewest goals overall with 20, have the league's most clean sheets at 11 and have the league's lowest Goal Conceded Average at 0.91. The fact that zero Revolution defenders or goal keepers were on the MLS All-Star team is an absolute joke.
By the end of July, the 27 year-old Goncalves was wearing the Captain's arm band and has played the most minutes on the club.
So...why aren't the Revs making sure they hold on to this prized possession? Why haven't they made an offer to buy out his contract from FC Sion? Why not do it now before his price surely goes up? If there is any possibility that FC Sion can ask for more money and that the price to buy JoGo was not set in stone in January, I'd feel more comfortable locking him in now.
According to Transfermarkt, Goncalves is locked into his contract at the Swiss side until June 30, 2015. His market value is listed at roughly $460,000. The MLS Player Union salary data shows he's guaranteed compensation around $104,375 for 2013. Is Goncalves worthy of Designated Player status? Perhaps it's because I've suffered watching such poor Revolution back lines recently, I'd say overwhelmingly yes.
With striker Juan Agudelo confirmed on his way to Stoke City at the season's end and with Jerry Bengtson who hasn't played a minute in who knows how long, hopefully on his way out can the Revs find a way to put together the necessary funds and tie up Goncalves for the long haul?
Update: Kalifa Cisse and Revolution part ways, freeing up more money.
New England finally has the answer at center back they've long sought after following Parkhurst's departure. They have one of the best defenders in the league. They have an international who won't miss any time due to national team obligations. They have the center back with the all the intangibles you want; a fiery leader who motivates his teammates and has earned respect from them and fans alike. He's a Captain in most every way you can define it.
I hope the New England front office knows what they have and are doing the same thing. Prove you're not cheap. No more searching, we've found the right one. Put a ring on his finger and make him ours! #BuyJoGo