All good things must come to an end, and on Wednesday, the stellar career of one of the best goalkeepers in MLS history reached its conclusion.
New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, 38, retired from professional soccer after 16-year career that saw him capture two U.S. Open Cup Championships (2007, 2001) as well a MLS Cup championship (2002).
“I have been truly blessed for the past 16 years,” Reis said in a statement. “I’ve been able to do something that I love – play soccer for a living. There have been many coaches who have influenced my development and helped get me to this point, and I have played with some fantastic players, many of whom are friends for life.”
Reis suffered a quadriceps injury in the waning minutes of the second leg of the Conference semifinals at Sporting Park on Nov. 7, and had to be helped off the pitch. Days later, Reis met with the media, but hadn’t yet made a decision on his playing future at the time.
“We’ll have to see what happens moving forward, but if I did play my last game, then I’m happy with my performance,” Reis told the media on Nov. 9. “I’m happy with the fact that I did leave it all on the field and I was able to walk off the field with my head held high.”
The veteran keeper underwent surgery to repair his left quadriceps tendon on Nov. 11. With a 5-7 month recovery time ahead of him, the Revolution declined his option for the 2014 season.
Reis started 12 games in 2013, and went 7-0-4, becoming the first goalkeeper in MLS history to go undefeated after making 10 or more appearances during a season. In the process, he collected five clean sheets, and helped guide the Revolution to their first postseason appearance in four years.
The veteran keeper was originally selected by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the third round (26th overall) of the 1998 college draft. He played sparingly for the side before he was traded to New England prior to the 2003 season.
After a brief spell as Adin Brown’s backup, Reis took over as the starter, and went on to become one of the most clutch players in club history. Whether it was denying penalties or taking them, there was no question Reis thrived under the pressure.
Not surprisingly, the rest of the league took notice. He was named to the MLS All-Star game four times (2005-08), and was a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year four times during the same stretch.
Earlier this year, Reis was called into action for a different, and far more serious, reason in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. His father-in-law, John Odom, was critically injured during the first blast, and Reis used his jacket as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding from Odom’s leg. The move saved Odom’s life, and the league recognized Reis’ heroic actions when it named him as the 2013 MLS Humanitarian of the Year.
During his 11-year Revolution career, Reis set club benchmarks for almost every one of the club’s career goalkeeping records, including games played in goal (254), games started in goal (253), minutes played in goal (22,697), goals against average (1.31), wins (93), saves (989), shutouts (66) and saves percentage (72.3).
He is also ranked in the top 10 in several MLS career goalkeeping categories: games played in goal (fourth, 293), games started in goal (fourth, 288), minutes played in goal (fourth, 25,936), wins (fifth, 110), saves (fifth, 1,114) and shutouts (sixth, 75).
“To be able to play the game is something that I didn’t take lightly,” Reis told the media on Nov. 9. “I really truly enjoyed (it) and I thought that my performance has showed how much it meant to me.”