Four months after tragedy, New England Revolution's Matt Reis makes first start with father-in-law in mind

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Matt Reis hardly needed incentive to perform well in his first start since March, but he possessed just a bit of additional impetus to do so anyways.

Last weekend marked the start of an important and meaningful three-day stretch for the New England Revolution goalkeeper. He made his return to the lineup in front a host of family and friends on Saturday night, but his off-the-field commitments loomed even larger. Most of his supporters were in town for a series of events in the buildup to the third annual Matt Reis and Johnny Damon Charity Golf Challenge in Stow, Mass., on Monday.

“It was definitely in the back of my mind,” Reis told MLSsoccer. “I didn't want to have a loss hanging over our heads for the next couple of days.”

Reis and his teammates took care of business to pave the way for the vital work ahead in the aftermath of the 2-0 victory against Chicago. The entire production – from the dinner catered by noted Boston eatery Rustic Kitchen on Sunday night through the end of the party at Butternut Farm the following day – focused on generating funds for the mounting medical bills faced by Reis' father-in-law, John Odom, as he recovers from severe injuries sustained in the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

Odom has made slow and steady progress since that awful day. He's recovered enough to appear publicly at Revolution matches as well as take the course on Monday to offer the ceremonial first tee shot. He still has a long road back to full health and a lengthy list of expenses to cover along the way.

The tournament – a venture that raised more than $100,000 for Odom and other charitable concerns thanks to extensive and generous support from many corporations and donors, according to Reis – offered yet another marker on the path to recovery.

“He was very excited to get out here,” Reis said. “He was able to see a lot of co-workers from back in California. …  He's a little bit sore today, but to see the smile back on his face was priceless.”