Later today New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis will retire at the age of 38, after 16 years in Major League Socccer- the last 11 of which he spent with the Revolution.
Reis will retire as the team leader as the Revolution’s all-time leader in every meaningful category for a goalkeeper and trailing only Shalrie Joseph in most other categories- games played, games started, minutes, etc.. He will also finish in the top 10 in every meaningful goalkeeping category in MLS history- in most cases he is in the top 5.
In addition to all of the statistics he compiled and honors he earned he will also be remembered as a leader on the field, as physically brave almost beyond comprehension, as an uncanny shot-stopper, and perhaps most of all, as a “big game” player. The New England Revolution had a lot of successes and failures during Reis’ tenure between the posts, but one thing you could count on was that if the club needed a big game out of him, Reis delivered. In short, without him the good times wouldn’t have been nearly as good, and the bad times, well, they would have been absolutely terrible.
Reis was the kind of player which the supporters of any club in any league in any country would be proud to call their own. He was dependable, he was humble, he was protective of his teammates, generous and genuine with fans, and perhaps most of all, entirely transparent. What you saw on the field was exactly what you saw off of it. If you were use those same modifiers- dependable, humble, protective, generous, and genuine- and applied them to his non-football life they would also be entirely accurate.
Anyone who might have doubted or wondered just what kind of man he is need only read about what he did during the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing to see the true measure of the man. Had it not been caught on camera and had the giant with bald head not been so recognizable, it’s unlikely we would have heard very much at all about Matt saving his father in-law’s life- and Matt probably would have preferred it to be that way. Nevertheless, he did the interviews, recounting the painful story, and he did them with humility and honesty, just as one would have expected him to do.
Reis’ on-field career ended in an unfortunate manner and had that not happened it is likely that he may have come back for another season, or even two, but it hardly matters. His legacy on, and more importantly, off the field was already well-established and will only grow more cherished in the hearts and minds of Revolution supporters as his playing days recede into the past. If you’ll forgive the obvious- and painful- turn of phrase, Reis made a career out of making big saves on and off the field and there is no doubt that he’ll continue to do just that along whatever post-football path he chooses.