Ralston leaving New England after eight seasons

Steve Ralston 1 (ISIphotos.com) 

Photo by ISIphotos.com

Steve Ralston's eight-year career with the New England Revolution is over.

The veteran midfielder and team captain has decided not to return to the Revs for the 2010 season, passing on a chance to re-sign with the club for a ninth season. The Boston Herald's Kyle McCarthy first reported the story on Friday afternoon.

“At the end of the day, they made me a reasonable offer,” Ralston told the Boston Herald. “It was a difficult decision for me and my family to make. It was just one of those things. It was the right time (to go).”

The MLS career leader in assists (135) and games played (378), Ralston did not announce his retirement and is expected to pursue other playing options as he recovers from ACL surgery for an injury suffered last September. One of the few remaining MLS originals (players who have been in the league since the inaugural season in 1996), Ralston will be 36 in June.

So what is next for Ralston?

A move to another MLS club (preferably a team that plays on grass) is a possibility, but one option that should be considered is a potential move to English side Plymouth, where former Revs assistant Paul Mariner is now the head coach. Plymouth is currently in the English Championship relegation zone, but Ralston just might be tempted to give playing in Europe a try for the first time in his professional career after 14 seasons in MLS.

Another possibility could be the new USL/NASL team in St. Louis–Ralston is a native of St. Louis–but there is likely to be a market in MLS for a midfielder who can still create and provide quality service from the right wing as well as central midfield.

Ralston's decision ends an eight-year run that saw New England reach four MLS Cup finals and win the 2007 U.S. Open Cup final. Acquired before the 2002 season via the Dispersal draft following the contraction of Ralston's Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Miami Fusion, Ralston proved to be the most successful player to emerge from that draft (with Pablo Mastroeni a close second).

Ralston joins Jeff Larentowicz and Jay Heaps as key players to depart from New England this off-season. Larentowicz went to Colorado in a trade for Cory Gibbs and Preston Burpo while Heaps retired. The three veterans follow a long line of standouts to depart from New England in recent years, including Michael Parkhurst, Andy Dorman and Clint Dempsey.

What do you think of this news? Sad to see Ralston leave New England? Hoping your team can land him when he's healthy? Think the Revs days as a perennial playoff team are over?

Share your thoughts below.

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51 Responses to Ralston leaving New England after eight seasons

  1. rorvis says:

    It’s a stab in the face for any Rev’s fan

  2. travis says:

    word on the street was they screwed him over but he’s too much of a professional to say that

  3. Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper" says:

    Wow! Did not see that one coming. Figured he would retire as a Rev.

    Sky Sports w/ a report from the SUN that TT Henry will be snubbing a move back to England to move to MLS. The caption read:

    Henry’s Eye On Red Bulls

    Could it finally be happening?

  4. Binks says:

    Please baby Jesus, who I love so much, say he hasn’t been courted by Jeff Agoos

  5. LukeDQ says:

    Wow, as a Revs fan: we are in for one tough year. We’ll miss you SR, JL and everyone else (but Wells). Good friggin night, and we’ll see you in 3 years.

  6. Eric says:

    Very sad to see such a quality character leave. Ralston made me proud to be a Revs fan.

  7. Balky Bartakomous says:

    massive blow for NE. Its going to be fun watching them and DC on the bottom of the eastern conf this year

  8. STX81 says:

    Oh crap!

  9. over there says:

    As much as it pains me, it is time for the Revs to rebuild. As much as I love Ralston, I was never comfortable about building a team around a 36 y/o and a guy with spine/concussion issues. Still, a sad day.

  10. cj says:

    He would very nicely in Houston. I hope Dom gets on the phone with his agent.

  11. Cooper says:

    He didn’t want to play on a plastic pitch anymore. Can’t say I blame him, and I support New England.

    We are in serious trouble.

  12. brant says:

    “Ralston proved to be the most successful player to emerge from that draft (with Pablo Mastroeni a close second).”

    uh… Preki?

    Or are you separating the “allocation draft” from the “dispersal draft”?

  13. silent e says:

    Why? Houston already has an aging right-sided midfielder in Brian Mullan, and Geoff Cameron can play there (Dom thinks it’s his best position), since we got Harmse to play holding midfielder. Oh, wait. He’s no good. But if Mulrooney gets healthy he can play that position.

    Anyhow, Houston has options and already has problems with age. I can’t imagine how Ralston (and I do respect him) could be very attractive to them.

  14. silent e says:

    Ives, how would Ralston play for Paul Mariner? I assume he could never get a work permit? Does he have a passport we don’t know about?

  15. Evan says:

    One of the classiest players to ever suit up in MLS, and he’ll be deeply missed in New England.

  16. Seth says:

    come to NY steve!

  17. art says:

    Seriously, why would you say that? Hasn’t Ralston earned your respect by now? He’s been a stalwart contributor for the Revs for 8 years. But he’s also 36, and has been hurt for most of the last couple of seasons. At some point both the Revs and Ralston have to move on.

  18. art says:

    Ralston hasn’t played much of a role for the Revs for a couple of seasons, and if they were relying on an oft-injured 36 year old to keep them afloat in the table then there’s something wrong. He won’t retire as a Rev but he will always be a Rev legend.

  19. Roblar says:

    RE: the UK link. I don’t get it. How would he qualify for a work permit?

  20. Nordy says:

    A great player and a class act. He will be missed in NE, but best of luck wherever he ends up!

  21. silent e says:

    Another interesting thought: Ralston would be an expensive 36 year old under old MLS rules–not only would a team have to pay a decent amount to him, but have to offer something to New England to get his rights. If his search for “other opportunities” lies in MLS, that might be a hint as to where the CBA is headed.

  22. RevsRule says:

    The Revs have a long history of low balling the talent and doing next to nothing to make themselves competitive.

    Steve may very well be done but the bottom line is the Revs have no other solution for his position. Jeff L is gone, now Ralston, nobody knows if Twellman will play again, Heaps has retired … and what is the solution? College players and aging (and fading) Euro players.

    It’s a crime that the NE management is running this team into the ground. They’re losing their fan base a little more each year

  23. JL says:

    Would he even qualify for a work permit? Unless he has some EU history in his family, he has no chance of going to England. I could see him becoming a coach, I don’t think any MLS team can take a chance on a guy his age and with injury history.

  24. JJ says:

    I think more NE fans have written on here than normally show up for games. You guys are lucky there’s no relegation. Your FO is a few steps behind the rest of the MLS, and that’s saying something. Your attendence is abysmal.

  25. Christian says:

    Mike Burns has been telling NE fans for years that they (management) are waiting for the “right” personnel to sign. Since then, Dempsey, Dorman, JL and now Rally have gone. Twellman is on the shelf with no clear word on his return.

    “Waiting” is a recipe for disaster. I think this will be the year that Burns and co. will no longer be able to hide behind Nichol’s magic at being able to make something out of very little. Sadly, I’ll be there watching the unfolding.

  26. timmy_u says:

    Philly FO, send a conditional draft pick north and acquire some experience and wing skill to spot start. I would be proud to see SR in a Union uni.

  27. Joel says:

    I hope Steve doesn’t retire and catches on with some MLS team. I don’t think it necessarily means that New England will stop being a playoff contender. Time and time again Steve Nicol has proved he is one of the best coaches in the MLS so we shouldn’t count them out. Plus they can make a run with a healthy Taylor Twellman along with Shalrie Joseph.

  28. slugger says:

    What he said. Also, don’t the Revs still hold his rights? Meaning another MLS team would have to trade for him?

  29. Keith G. says:

    I would deffently love to see him go to the Red Bulls. They could use his tallent and experience, to help build this club up. Red Bulls if you know whats good for you, you will make every attempt to bring Ralston to NY.

  30. Reid says:

    I would really like to see what Steve Nicol could do with a half way decent front office.
    I appreciate what the krafts did at the beginning of MLS, but i think its time for them to move on.

  31. crazy talk says:

    no wayy… thats crazy talk. he’s damage goodds.

  32. Bob says:

    Well, he did say the dispersal draft, so yeah, I think he’s separating the two.

  33. Haig says:

    Please stop the attendance talk. For the most part, every MLS team attracts the number of fans it deserves based on stadium, ease of access, quality of play, historical performance, and game experience. New England rates very low in several of these, and their market has responded accordingly. When you comment in a soccer forum, you are preaching to the choir. It’s demented to hold people who read this blog, who are the people who hold their nose and go to games, responsible for the team or the people who choose not to go to games.

    Frankly, considering the location of Foxboro, the soullesness of the stadium, the sour attitude of the team to its SGs, and the terrible single side seating layout, I am surprised they do as well as they do.

  34. Tony says:

    Selfishly (and unrealistically) I hope someone at FC Tampa Bay gives him a call. He was one of my favorite Mutiny players and was always really nice to the fans. C’mon Steve come back to the Bay!!

  35. eric m says:

    Didn’t Steve Nicol just sign a contract extension?

    I see the Revs going the cheap route for the foreseeable future, with college players and unknown Africans. The NE Revs are becoming the Kansas City Royals of the MLS.

  36. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    Considering his contract doesn’t run out until 2011, its highly doubtful. MLS is not going to pony up the kind of transfer money it would take to get him before his contract expires. Move along, nothing to see here.

  37. deepm says:

    In terms of Ralston’s status, is he a free agent (similar to Stewart Holden) or does New Engand still retain his rights?

  38. kpugs says:

    My first reaction was that Ralston is insane, what European team is going to sign a 36 year-old right midfielder with no speed?

    Then I realized, MLS is actually a much faster league than most of us realize, and playing second- or third-tier football in England might actually still be doable for him, even at 36. Good luck to him, at least I won’t have to watch him torch RBNY anymore.

  39. Aw, damn. He’s a great player and one of my favorites next to Reis, Joseph, and Twellman. I had always hoped he’d retire a Rev (with an MLS Cup to boot).

    I was planning on buying the new Revs jersey with his name and number on it, too.

    I hope he goes either home to St. Louis or to Plymouth with PM.

  40. Seriously? says:

    I hate how people keep trying to convince us about the stadium being the problem. People said the same thing about the Fleet when it was first built, but now that the teams have been successful of late, nobody complains about it any more, because the place is full. The Revs used to draw much better in the exact same location, in a stadium with bench seats, that was far more “soulless”, and it’s certainly not hard to get to. The stadium is not what drove people away.

    What makes the place soulless is the emptiness. If you were to get 20-25,000 in the lower bowl (which seats around 30,000 I believe), the atmosphere would be great. The upper tier is separated enough from the lower bowl, it’s really not that noticeable. And the team has been very successful of late, so that’s not the issue either.

    IMO, the team just took a little too long before it was finally successful, such that many fans just got turned off by the mediocrity, and the appearance that management didn’t care about success. Then they had one more window of opportunity to draw people back, when they hosted the final and drew 60,000+, but the team and the game was terrible, and they lost, and I think that was a last straw for a lot of people.

    Would a smaller city stadium create some new excitement and possible draw some people back? Sure. I know I’d love it. But 10 years ago we probably would have wanted a 25-30,000 seat stadium, which is exactly what the lower bowl is. The problem was the team management took too long to get serious about building a winner, and fans got tired of that.

  41. DaveW says:

    Classy guy who more or less came out of nowhere and made it on hard work and determination. I hope there are some kids(lefties and righties) in the pipeline who grew up admiring his hustle and his ability to give great service from the wing.

    US soccer at all levels could use more US players with that skill set and mindset.

  42. Austin says:

    word has been for a long time that he will ask to leave Barca right after the world cup, i actually believe it is more likely to happen like that than him waiting another year

  43. Austin says:

    1st of all…..Brian Mullan is 31, Ralston is 36. That is a TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE, Mullan is not showing signs of aging either, all he does is work his ass off for the team

    2nd of all, Ralston has played as an attacking mid in the latter part of his career

    and 3rd of all, Dom said Cameron would play RM if they kept Holden, that didnt happen and they now have to put Cameron at a central mid position

    Houston and Philly are good possibilities if he doesnt retire

  44. Austin says:

    Stuart Holden, and yes they would have his rights….another team would need to trade for his right just like what happened with Jeff Larentowicz

  45. Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper" says:

    I could be wrong, but I undertand that his contract is up in 2010 and that Barca has a 1 year option for 2011. It is my understanding that he will ask them not to pursue that option.

    is this incorrect?

  46. inkedAG says:

    Steve Ralston leaving the Revs is pretty crazy.

  47. einar says:

    it is hard for me to imagine him in another jersey unless the mutiny come back lol

  48. Brant says:

    “Acquired before the 2002 season via the Dispersal draft following the contraction of Ralston’s Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Miami Fusion, Ralston proved to be the most successful player to emerge from that draft (with Pablo Mastroeni a close second).”

    Allocation draft @ Wikipedia lists Ralston, Mastroeni, and Nick Rimando, among others ( link to en.wikipedia.org )

    Dispersal draft @ Wikipedia lists Preki ( link to en.wikipedia.org )

    hence my confusion about which one he was referring to, or if they were being combined into one discussion. If he’s separating the two, then he referred to the wrong one. If he’s not, then I’d make the case that Preki was the most accomplished of the “dispersed” players. One might could even argue Nick Rimando’s MLS cup win this past year carries at least a bit of weight in his favor, ahead of Mastroeni and Ralston…

  49. tfcfan says:

    come to tfc. they need more midfielders!

  50. ThaDeuce says:

    do you think he really wants to leave the number one team in the universe, and the world class teammates and competition, to come to go to the Red Bulls???

  51. cammiev says:

    This Revs fan is really upset with this latest loss to our roster. Realistically, Ralston is 36, and coming back from a very bad injury. I was at the game where he got hurt, and the look on his face made it obvious he was wondering if his career was over. But his value to the team has always been more than just his obvious value on the field. He and Heaps were the heart and soul of the Revolution. But, we’re owned by the Patriots, and they have always been business first, to put it in the nicest possible terms. Maybe he wanted to move back to St.Louis, maybe he hated the turf (so does everyone else), maybe he was lowballed. Who knows? I wish I did.