When two of Major League Soccer's most accomplished performers square off in Thursday's Eastern Conference final, the winner could just as easily be measured in bruises as goals scored.
Neither is a particularly dirty player, but considering what is at stake and the competitive spirit burning strongly within both men, their matchup promises to be a fiercely fought showdown.
Joseph is a defensive midfield heavyweight and the glue that holds together Steve Nicol's Revolution. A tenacious tackler, Joseph shoulders much of the burden that would otherwise fall upon the backline, but he is also capable of posing a serious attacking threat.
Joseph will likely be given the primary responsibility of keeping Blanco as quiet as possible. The talisman of Chicago's playoff run, Blanco has been a permanent whirlwind of motion, harassing opponents and referees in equal measure. One would think holding him down would be an impossible task.
However, if anyone in the league is up to the challenge it is Joseph, the Grenada international who grew up in New York and has developed into the most dominant midfielder in the North American game.
"When you have got a player of Shalrie's quality, he is always going to have an influence," said Nicol, who is just two wins away from leading New England to its first MLS Cup triumph after several near misses. "When he steps onto the field, our players are glad they are standing alongside him, and the opposition wish he was on their team.
"As much as he is called a defensive midfielder and is fantastic at destroying attacks, his passes create a lot of chances for us as well."
Nicol, a key member of the all-conquering Liverpool teams of the mid-1980s, knows full well the damage that can be caused by a creative player with Blanco's credentials. The Mexican star will advance from deep positions and look to play decisive balls into the penalty area for the likes of Chris Rolfe and Chad Barrett.
Although the Revolution has one of the best central defenders in MLS in Michael Parkhurst, they don't want to rely on any last-ditch heroics. That is where Joseph comes in. He will need to restrict the time and space Blanco is allowed and cut off his sneaky runs into dangerous spots in the attacking third.
Blanco's enterprise was too much for D.C. United to handle in leading the Fire's upset of the playoffs' No. 1 seed. Thursday's game will be a big test for Joseph, whose performances in MLS over the last few seasons have been noticed by clubs in Europe.
Scottish giants Celtic have already had two bids for Joseph turned down. The latest rumors in England have the 29-year-old linked with a switch to Premiership club Birmingham City, which doesn't appear to be put off by the new contract Joseph signed with New England earlier this year.
Joseph will boost his reputation even more with another performance like last Saturday's 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls. His defense-splitting through ball for Taylor Twellman set up the only goal of the two-legged tie.
If Joseph and Blanco cancel each other out Thursday, a scenario that is entirely possible, then Nicol would not be too unhappy. The Revolution have more attacking options and will be more comfortable on the artificial surface at Gillette Stadium. Chicago's recent impetus mostly has come from one individual – Blanco.
"We know what a dangerous player Blanco can be when he gets in position," Nicol said. "Our job is to make sure it doesn't get to that stage."