Another one of the league's old guard is calling time on his career, as New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis retired Wednesday as the longest-tenured player in club history.
In a career spent on both coasts, first with the LA Galaxy and later with New England, Reis cemented himself as one of the best netminders in league history, finishing near the top of just about every goalkeeping category. He is fourth in games played in goal (282), games started in goal (288) and minutes played in goal (25,936), fifth in wins (110) and saves (1,114) and sixth in shutouts (75).
After returning from injury to help lead the Revs to the playoffs this season, Reis suffered a torn left quadriceps in the final match of the season, a 3-1 loss to eventual MLS Cup champion Sporting KC in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He finished his career with a 1.32 goals against average, 75 shutouts and 110 victories.
“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. I have played for two amazing organizations over the years. Both of those owners, the Kraft family and Mr. Anschutz, are deeply committed to ensuring soccer thrives in the United States.
"Because of their guidance, MLS has come a long way in the last two decades, and I am very proud to have played my whole career in this league and with these teams. I also want to make sure the fans know how much I’ll miss them, too. They’ve made this amazing ride more fun to be on through the years.”
After spending his first five seasons in LA as a backup to Kevin Hartman, Reis was traded to New England ahead of the 2003 season. It took him a year to earn the starting spot, but the former UCLA 'keeper never let go, helping lead New England to three MLS Cup finals appearances (2005, 2007, 2008) and starting 293 games during a sterling career that included four MLS All-Star selections. He was also a four-time finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year (2005-08).
He ends his career as the owner of every New England career goalkeeping record, 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 save percentage (.723). He also ranks second in games played, games started and minutes played.
“Trading for Matt Reis was one of the best acquisitions the Revolution has ever made,” Revolution Investor/Operator Robert Kraft said in a statement. “On the field, he was an elite MLS goalkeeper who set every career goalkeeping record in club history. He was a respected leader, both on the field and in the locker room, for more than a decade. He quickly became a fan-favorite and, for much of his career, was one of the faces of our franchise."
Reis added hero to his resume this year as well. On April 15, 2013, he was in downtown Boston cheering on his wife in the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded along the route. After the first bomb went off, Reis rushed toward the blast site to find and help his father-in-law, John Odom.
Using articles of clothing as make-shift tourniquets, Reis reduced Odom’s blood loss – an act that saved his life. Over the next few months, Odom made a miraculous recovery, and Reis raised more than $125,000 for the John Odom Recovery Fund at his third annual charity golf tournament, paying tribute to his father-in-law’s recovery by wearing a warm-up jersey with the name "Odom."
“Off the field, he was a tremendous ambassador for the Revolution, participating in countless community events throughout New England and earning MLS Humanitarian of the Year honors this past season," Kraft said. "We will miss his steadying presence on the field, his constant presence in the community and his quick wit in the locker room. We thank Matt and his family for their many contributions and wish them the very best in the future."
Reis was selected by the Galaxy in the third round of the 1998 MLS SuperDraft, and made 39 appearances in five seasons with the team before being traded to New England for Alex Pineda Chicon. After becoming first choice in net for head coach Steve Nicol, Reis anchored one of the league's best teams but couldn't manage to win an MLS Cup championship despite three appearances in four seasons.
“Matt has been one of the most outstanding and inspirational members of our club for a decade, and we want to thank him for all of his remarkable efforts, both on and off the field,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said in a statement. “He’s been a model representative of the Revolution and has helped us reach great highs during his time in New England. It’s tough to see him end his playing career and know he won’t be back out on the field next year, but we want to wish him and his family nothing but the best in the next stage of their life.”
Reis is the latest in a string of MLS veterans who have announced their retirement this year, joining his former mentor Hartman, Houston Dynamo striker Brian Ching, San Jose Earthquakes mainstay Ramiro Corrales and Colorado ironman Pablo Mastroeni. Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen also called it quits on Monday.