Revolution defender Goncalves has Portugal on the brain
By Richard Pignatelli
(Reuters) - Portuguese-born defender Jose Goncalves of Major League Soccer's New England Revolution is watching the European Championship with added interest this year.
During his three years in MLS, which included being named MLS defender of the year in 2013, Goncalves has captained the Revolution and been integral in helping them post three winning seasons while reaching the playoffs each year.
He now hopes this success will gain him the international recognition that he craves.
Goncalves, 30, understands that domestic success must come first and that the Revolution's standing within the sports-mad Boston public needs elevating.
Boston's professional football, basketball, baseball and hockey teams combined to win nine championships during a 13-year run from 2001-2014 that solidified its reputation as "title-town."
When speaking to Reuters about the Revolution's standing in the city's sporting landscape he said: "We are where we should be, it is normal. Boston is a very successful sporting city which has won many titles over many years."
He added that the Revolution "are right in amongst them competing with them, however the thing that will help us really compete is winning a title."
The Revolution have never won an MLS Cup, however with the league looking wide open this season Goncalves has high hopes his team can finally make a breakthrough.
"We are just one title away from being a big successful sport team in Boston," said Goncalves. "It is something that hopefully I can achieve for my team and hopefully this year."
Winning an MLS Cup would not only propel the Revolution into a different sporting orbit, it would also raise Goncalves' profile and help showcase his credentials to a wider audience.
He said there is always a price to pay when you leave Europe to play soccer and that it is more difficult for some people to watch MLS as opposed to other leagues in Europe.
"Some managers prefer players to play in Europe because they are comfortable with this and they know the standard of their leagues as opposed to not knowing the standard of the MLS," said Goncalves.
However, with the quality of MLS improving each season there is no reason for Goncalves, or any international hopeful, to be disheartened.
"For me it has always been a goal to play for my country and I will always be available to play for my country," said Goncalves.
With an aging Portuguese defence struggling badly at the Euro's and being marshalled by the Ricardo Carvalho, 38, there is every chance that new blood could be sought for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers that begin in September.
"I am not the type of guy who spends every day claiming that I have to go to the national team," said Goncalves. "But it's on my mind and I know that I have to play well and even if there is the smallest chance then I would love to make a future squad.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)