Jose Goncalves: New England’s Portuguese Captain

Goncalves at the Revolution. Photo:

Goncalves at the Revolution. Photo:

New England’s Jose Goncalves has been around. Currently playing in America, the Portuguese defender has also played in Switzerland, Italy, Lithuania, Scotland, and Germany. Now with the New England Revolution in America’s Major League Soccer, Goncalves has found his niche in the team. Now captain and a regular starter at the Revolution, Goncalves has found a home, for really the first time in his career. 

Early Career

Goncalves was born in Switzerland to Portuguese parents of Cape Verdean descent, making him eligible to represent any of the three countries. He joined Basel at the age of 17, and after failing to make an appearance, he moved to second division Winterthur, before moving to Serie B side Venezia in Italy. After making a handful of appearances for each club, Goncalves moved back to Switzerland, where he joined FC Thun in the Swiss Super League. That season (the 2005-2006 season), Thun were competing in the Champions League, a competition in which Goncalves made six appearances that season at the age of 20. His promising performances caught the eyes of some of Europe’s elite clubs. Goncalves, however, decided to move to Scottish side Hearts of Midlothian, where he enjoyed two seasons as a starter. After a loan spell at second division German side Nurnberg, Goncalves returned to Hearts, where he once again resumed his role as starter. After Hearts, Goncalves moved once again back to Switzerland and signed for St. Gallen, before moving soon after to Sion. At Sion, Goncalves did not experience much playing time, so a loan was arranged before the 2013 MLS season for the defender to move to the New England Revolution.

Revolution at the Revolution

At the Revolution, Jose Goncalves has blossomed. Immediately named the club’s captain after his arrival in 2013, Jose Goncalves established himself as possibly one of the team’s most important assets. Making 34 appearances, Goncalves was a rock at the heart of the team’s defense, helping them to a third place finish in the Eastern Conference, their highest finish since 2009. The 3rd place finish qualified them for the 2013 MLS Cup playoffs, where they narrowly lost to eventual winners Sporting Kansas City.

Following the 2013 season, the New England Revolution purchased Goncalves outright, and the defender enjoyed another successful 2014 season. Still on as club captain, Goncalves led the team to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference, finishing only four points adrift of champions DC United. In addition to an impressive regular season run, Goncalves also led the team to the final of the MLS Cup, where they narrowly lost to Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane’s LA Galaxy.

And indeed, Goncalves’s time at the Revolution has been a revolution. Up until this point in his career, the only club where he had established himself as an important member of the team for any period of time was during his time in Scotland with Hearts. Some view it moving to America as a step back in a player’s career, and while an argument could be made for that opinion, there’s no arguing with what it’s done for Goncalves’s career. He’s finally found a niche; a place where he’s appreciated as a player and given playing time accordingly.

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