Monday, November 11, 2013
Trying season could be Reis' last
By Brian O'Connell, Special to ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Matt Reis approaches every season knowing he’ll face a new challenge, even after playing in MLS for 16 years. But there’s no doubt that the past season was the most challenging of them all.
On the field, Reis had to win back his starting job after losing it to his understudy, Bobby Shuttleworth. But off the field, Reis faced a challenge that overshadowed anything the sport could ever throw at him.
Matt Reis is helped off the field after suffering a leg injury that he said will require "a long recovery."
Six months ago, Reis and his family were at the Boston Marathon cheering on his wife, who was running the race. As they waited for her near the finish line, the first of two terrorist blasts sent the scene into chaos.
Although Reis, who was only yards away from the first blast, escaped unharmed, his world was forever changed: His father-in-law, John Odom, was seriously injured after a piece of shrapnel tore into his legs. Reis immediately raced over to him and used his jacket as a tourniquet -- a decision that probably saved Odom’s life.
Despite the heavy emotional toll, Reis came back to help guide the Revolution to its first postseason berth in four years -- and with a new outlook on life.
“It was very nice for me knowing that I could have been dead and knowing that I wouldn't have been here,” Reis said. “To be able to work and get through the ups and downs of everything and to be able to help get this team back into the playoffs was something that [I've] been missing for a long time.”
In a sense, Gillette Stadium became a safe harbor for the veteran keeper. It was a place where he could shift his thoughts away from the horrific memories of the attacks.
Even after Shuttleworth claimed the starting job in late April, Reis’ focus never waned. He didn’t allow himself to become bitter about the situation, and that perseverance served him well when he reclaimed his spot in the lineup in August.
“To be able to play the game is something that I didn't take lightly,” Reis said. “I really truly enjoyed [it] and I thought that my performance has showed how much it meant to me.”
But even though Reis went 7-0-4 and collected five clean sheets in 2013, his playing days may be drawing to a close. During Wednesday’s conference semifinals at Sporting Park, the veteran keeper suffered a left leg injury that he said will require “a long recovery.”
Reis advised reporters on Saturday that he hasn’t yet reached a decision on his future. He will have a discussion with his family, as well as the coaching staff and front office, to find out what the best course of action is.
“We'll have to see what happens moving forward, but if I did play my last game, then I'm happy with my performance,” Reis said. “I'm happy with the fact that I did leave it all on the field and I was able to walk off the field with my head held high.”
GONCALVES’ FUTURE REMAINS UNCERTAIN While Reis’ status for 2014 remains unclear, another valuable member of the defense could very well have played his last game in a Revolution uniform as well.
Club captain Jose Goncalves, who was acquired via loan last winter from Swiss side FC Sion, realizes that with his season-long deal about to expire, he could have very well played his final game for the Revolution.
But if 2013 proves to be the only season Goncalves, who was voted the team’s defender of the year, plays in Foxborough, he has no regrets about his time with the team.
“I enjoyed it, definitely,” Goncalves said. “It has been a pleasure to be here, and to be the club captain. It's something very important to me and everything went well.”
The front office had remained mum on its negotiations with Goncalves, who stands to be in line for a significant pay raise from the $104,000 he earned this season. While the Revs would like to bring him back, they won’t do it at any cost, despite his impressive campaign.
When asked whether he expects Goncalves to return, coach Jay Heaps kept his answer short and advised that his center back’s future is among the decisions “we'll make over the next few days."
Meanwhile, the Portuguese international is holding out hope that he can return for a second season.
“If there is a good option for me to be back here next year, I will be here, no doubt,” Goncalves said. “I enjoyed my first year here very well, and my family did too.”
REST IS THE RX FOR ROWE, TEAMMATES With the curtains drawn on the 2013 campaign, Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe is looking forward to something he hasn’t gotten enough of since the preseason kicked off in January.
“Rest,” Rowe said. “It's been a long season I think for a lot of us. It's going to be a couple of weeks of resting and kind of getting our bodies away from soccer.”