Deciding a Revs Best XI

Looking back might help the Revs move forward
by James Perry   |   Monday, January 28, 2013

Technically Speaking - column on player development, coaching & youth soccer

Well, here we are 18 seasons later. The Revolution are training away in Arizona, readying for their upcoming season. Another MLS adventure is slowly approaching. Can you feel the excitement?

I thought it’d be a good idea to look back at some of the better former New England players who deserve to be in the team’s Best XI. But I didn’t want to give you an obligatory Best XI article and just list a bunch of players and a lineup. I want you to help me make the perfect Revs XI.

To make it easy, we are going to do a standard 4-4-2 formation. We will have 4 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 2 strikers/forwards.

I think we can all agree that goalkeeper Matt Reis and forward Taylor Twellman, who was recently reported as eligible to be inducted in the US Soccer Hall of Fame, are shoe-ins for the team.

Those two players are really the only concrete players in the top XI. The manager is also an easy pick too. It’s Steve Nicol, who led the Revs to an unbelievable run of 7 straight playoff appearances, 1 Superliga title, 1 US Open Cup title and 4 MLS Cup appearances.

But how does the rest of the team shape out? Here’s an idea:

Goalkeeper: Matt Reis

Reis, with 81 wins in between the posts for the Revs, holds every GK record for the Revs. He has more than 100 career wins (he started his career with the Galaxy), 70 saves, 2,000-plus minutes in net for the Revs and he’s just been an excellent player for them. Truly, what competition does he have? The only other keeper that could possibly stand up to Reis’ numbers would be Jeff Causey, who started for the Revs before he was demoted to backup in 2002 and retired in 2003.

Defenders: Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino, Mike Burns

Heaps is one of the fiercest competitors ever to lace up his boots for the Revolution. He still is the team record holder for appearances, starts and minutes played. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played since 2009. He also started the 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup matches. He is one of a select few in Revolution history to do so.

And Parkhurst, though only in New England for 4 seasons, was very durable in the back. He played and started 115 matches during his career in New England. Along with Heaps, he was a key defensive cog in getting New England to 3 straight MLS Cup appearances.

Franchino, a soccer bulldog, played hard and always wore his heart on his sleeve. He was periodically captain with the franchise and worked well with Heaps on the backline when he played defense.

Burns, before he was an inept GM, was a fantastic defender. Playing on the Inaugural Revs team, he had 108 appearances and 3 goals. He was also very instrumental in how the team stayed afloat in the early years.

Midfielders: Clint Dempsey, Steve Ralston, Andy Williams, Shalrie Joseph

Dempsey played in New England for 3 years before heading overseas for a five-year stint at Fulham and now with Tottenham. In those 3 years in New England, Clint scored 25 goals, 14 assists and started all but one match.

Ralston was a true professional. He played with great style, grace, finesse and toughness not really seen around here since he left. He is one of the other Revs to start all four MLS Cups. Ralston should truly have his No. 14 retired by the organization.

Williams was a hardnosed player and when he was on he was on, but he didn’t really fit into Steve Nicol’s system. He is on the list because he showed what he could do when given the opportunity at RSL.

And Shalrie Joseph is an absolute beast on the pitch. Every game he gave you his all. He was a member of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup teams. But he was traded to Chivas USA in 2012 in a blatant salary cap move.

Forwards: Taylor Twellman, Joe-Max Moore

Moore played 6 seasons with New England, with an EPL stint in the middle, and amassed 41 goals and 35 assists. He was another inaugural member of the Revolution and important player for the USA.

Twellman was an outstanding striker for the Revolution. He suffered a concussion that cut short a brilliant playing career. But he made waves while with the Revs and surely makes the Best XI. Twellman is the youngest and fastest to score 100 goals in league history (finishing with 101). He also has a 0.58 goals per game average and 28 game-winning goals.

Manager: Steve Nicol

Besides his competition Frank Stapleton, Thomas Rongren, Walter Zenga (yes the same Zenga who was a goalkeeper did a player/coach stint that we would love to forget), Fernando Clavijo and current manager Jay Heaps, no one can really touch Nicol’s accomplishments.

Disagree? Agree? Let me know. I’m looking to build the perfect Best XI for the Revs as we near a new season. It’s important we look back at the best before we move forward to whatever (or whoever) comes next to New England.


Massasoit CC
Club Domestic:
NE Revolution
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
Covering the New England Revolution for SN, before doing the same at Boston SportsDesk. Has a great fiance named Kim, and an amazing son Draven. Played, coached and refereed Rec Soccer in Norton, Mass. Avid Papa John's pizza eater.