UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls' Ryan Meara has not had the easiest of times for much of the past year, but at long last there seems to be some good news on the horizon for the injury-stricken goalkeeper.
Meara is on the brink of being completely healthy for the first time since suffering injuries to both his hips in July 2012. There currently is no timetable for the 22-year-old's return to full fitness, but there was a sign of progress this past weekend as he played in his first match since undergoing season-ending surgery last fall.
That match only came about, however, after Meara suffered a bit of a letdown. The Fordham University product was excited to play against Toronto FC’s reserves this past weekend, but that match was postponed late on. New York then arranged to send some Academy players to face the reserves, which gave Meara 45 minutes of action and the club confidence that he is ready for more.
“I believe the plan is for him to play some decent minutes in the reserve game in Columbus [this weekend], which I think will be huge for him,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told reporters on Wednesday. “This will be his first game back with a meaningful game on the road, so that tells you right there he’s close.”
Meara has heard that before. The goalkeeper who shone as rookie starter for New York in 2012 before the aforementioned injuries derailed his season has been on the cusp of returning to action on several occasions, but a number of setbacks have prevented him from getting back on the field for any prolonged period until now.
It has been a difficult and frustrating process for Meara, but he has just tried to make the best of the situation.
“It’s not been easy but it’s just one of those things where you have to roll with the punches a little and take it one day at a time,” Meara told MLSsoccer.com. “One thing I've realized [as I’m] getting back into full training and getting closer to playing games now, you can’t take any day for granted. You never know what’s going to happen, so I’m just enjoying myself again. That’s the main thing.”
Meara may be content with where he is at now, but he admits he still feels soreness in his hips at times. Nonetheless, Meara knows that Petke has said that there will be a competition for the starting goalkeeper spot and he hopes it his he who lands it in the near future.
“Everyone wants to start no matter what position you’re playing on the field,” said Meara. “For me, obviously, I want to start but whatever my role is on the team I’ll be OK with. I’m happy to be back healthy.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.