UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Ryan Meara returned to full training for the New York Red Bulls for the first time in weeks on Monday and unlike the last time he stepped onto the field, he came away feeling great.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since suffering a hip injury in early July, Meara discussed his recovery from the knock that has forced him to miss six league games in a rookie season that has been among the best of the 2012 draft class and his immediate goals now that he is able to play again. Meara also talked about how returning to training a couple of weeks ago may have been premature, as he suffered a setback that forced him back to the trainer’s room.
“Looking back, at the time it felt great and I was dying to get out there,” Meara told reporters on Monday. “Maybe in hindsight I should have waited a couple more days but it opened my eyes kind of in making sure when I come back, I’m fully, fully, 100 percent.”
Meara never considered that his Rookie of the Year-worthy campaign could be derailed by injury after enjoying a season with some often spectacular performances on a New York team littered with talent and veterans. But he learned the hard way just how much of a grind an MLS season can be when his hip started giving him discomfort from all the wear and tear.
“You hear coming in that rookies coming from college, that you’ll hit a wall at some point,’” said Meara. “For me, I said, ‘Not me. I won’t.' But I think it’s inevitable to hit some kind of wall, whether it’s physically or mentally and hopefully, I hit the wall and I’m past it. Hopefully I can get back on the field.”
The last time Meara played for the Red Bulls was in a 2-0 road loss to the New England Revolution on July 8. Since then, much has changed for New York.
Along with signing Designated Player Tim Cahill and others, the team has gone from having just two goalkeepers in Meara and back-up Jeremy Vuolo to having four. One of those is veteran goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, who has stepped right in during Meara’s absence and performed as well – if not better – than the Fordham product.
“Bill’s come in and done great and we’re winning, we’re a point off of first place in the East, so it’s hard to switch anything up right now when it’s going well,” said Meara, who played every minute of the first 18 games of the season prior to his injury. “For me, personally, my main goal is right now to get healthy, get back on the field, get back to training and obviously I want to be the starter again. But I understand when it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
"Obviously, winning games is the most important thing. I want to be able to say I was on a championship team either way if I’m the starter or the backup, so that’s my outlook on it.”
Meara also revealed that he received yet another call-up by Ireland’s U-21 men’s national team, but that once again he had to turn it down. Whereas last time the Red Bulls thought it would be in his and their best interest for him to stay put, this time the recent injury prevented him from participating in his first international camp.