FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The timetable for Matt Reis' return from offseason surgeries on his left shoulder and left knee didn't accommodate for the unfortunate scenario that unfolded last weekend.
New England handed the number one shirt to Preston Burpo after acquiring him from Colorado during the offseason and tasked the 37-year-old goalkeeper with providing stability between the sticks until Reis returned.
Burpo lived up to his portion of the proposition – “I thought Preston did an amazing job when he was [healthy],” Reis said – during his stint as the Revolution starter, but he suffered a fractured right fibula and tibia in last Saturday's 3-2 victory over New York and will miss the remainder of the season.
The injury occurred at a seemingly fortuitous time, with Reis back on the active roster after spending six games on the disabled list. Reis, however, isn't quite ready to make his season debut, paving the way for Bobby Shuttleworth to make his first MLS start against Seattle on Saturday.
“It's really ironic how everything happened,” Reis said. “I get cleared to play on the day Preston goes down. For me, it's just the beginning of the season. I'm in preseason mode here, making a lot of mistakes and getting the body back into it. I'm just trying to work as hard as I can.”
All of that hard work will occur within a condensed time frame. Most players benefit from an extended period to work themselves into match shape. Burpo's injury means Reis will likely have to return to form and fitness during the World Cup break in order to give Revolution boss Steve Nicol an experienced option in net once the interlude concludes.
“As much time as [I] can get, I'll take it,” Reis said. “It would help if I could have a couple of months, but, realistically, I don't.”
Reis said he hopes to progress enough to feature in a friendly against Brazilian powerhouse Cruzeiro on June 13. Although he has already returned to the training field, Reis said he still needs to continue to improve his health and work his way back into form before he makes his return.
“It's a little bit of everything,” Reis said. “Goalkeeping is a position where you move around quite a bit. Having your legs [back], it's going to take a while. It's seeing shots, getting adjusted and getting back into the swing of things.”
It may take some time, but Reis said he's prepared to do whatever it takes in order to reclaim his place among the upper echelon of MLS goalkeepers. For now, the veteran goalkeeper said he's just enjoying the opportunity to train every day after spending most of the past six months on the sidelines.
“It's always nice to be able to take a step out,” Reis said. “It makes you really realize how good you have it and what a wonderful job this is. Being able to get back out on the field, train and try to get better every day is always nice.”