Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis retires from professional soccer

Revs’ record-setting ‘keeper closes his 16-year Major League Soccer career

Video: Matt Reis announces his retirement. Watch Jay Heaps' intro and questions from the media here.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution legend Matt Reis – one of the most prolific goalkeepers in Major League Soccer history – is retiring from professional soccer after a 16-year career, all in MLS.

Reis, 38, who tops every single Revolution club goalkeeping record, is closing the book on his stellar career that saw him win both major championships in U.S. professional soccer, including MLS Cup (2002) and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2001, 2007). Reis was a member of six teams that played for an MLS Cup championship, including three with New England.

“I have been truly blessed for the past 16 years,” Reis said. “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.”

A Mission Viejo, Calif., product, Reis split his professional career between the Los Angeles Galaxy (1998-2002) and the Revolution (2003-13). Reis is a four-time MLS all-star and a four-time finalist for MLS goalkeeper of the year. At the league level, Reis concludes his career ranked in the top five in almost every career goalkeeping category: games played in goal (fourth, 294), games started in goal (fourth, 288), minutes played in goal (fourth, 25,936), wins (fifth, 110) and saves (fifth, 1,114). He was also sixth in shutouts (75).

“Trading for Matt Reis was one of the best acquisitions the Revolution has ever made,” said Revolution Investor/Operator Robert Kraft. “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.

“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. 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,” Kraft said.

Reis began his professional career with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1998 after playing collegiately at UCLA. Following a four-year career with the Bruins – in which he helped the school win the 1997 NCAA Championship while earning College Cup Defensive MVP honors – the Galaxy drafted him in the third round (26th overall) of the 1998 MLS College Draft.

He saw limited time in LA in his first five pro seasons, and in January 2003, was traded to the Revolution. After serving as the back-up his first season in New England, Reis assumed starting goalkeeping duties in 2004 – a role he held until his retirement this season.

Reis started all three of the Revolution’s three-straight MLS Cup appearances (2005, 2006 and 2007) and also won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup and the 2008 SuperLiga titles with the Revolution. He retires as the Revolution’s longest-tenured player in club history, playing for the team for 11 seasons – longer than any other player.

In addition to his status among the league’s career goalkeeping leaders, Reis closes his playing career as the Revolution’s all-time leader in goalkeeper appearances (254), goalkeeper starts (253), goalkeeper minutes played (22,697), goals against average (1.31), wins (93), saves (989), shutouts (66) and saves percentage (72.3). He also finishes his career ranked second in the club’s overall records in games played, games started and minutes played.

“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. “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.”

A consistent fixture in goal for the Revolution, Reis earned double-figure wins in each of five straight seasons (2005-09) and posted 44 shutouts in that span. His 10 shutouts in each season from 2005, 2006 and 2007 were not only the most in MLS in that three-year span, but also established club single-season records for shutouts in a season. Reis made 24 or more starts in eight of his 10 years as the Revolution’s primary starter in goal.

His 2005 totals of wins (16), saves (115), shutouts (10), minutes played in goal (2,784) and starts in goal (31) all established new club records, and he extended his saves (141), minutes played (2,880) and starts (32) records in 2006.

Giving credence to the saying that many improve with age, Reis posted his best professional season in his 16th and final season, 2013. In and out of the lineup early in the season with injuries and while dealing with a devastating family tragedy stemming from the Boston Marathon bombings, Reis saw limited time until mid-August. However, once Reis returned to goal, he posted one of MLS’ best-ever seasons for a goalkeeper.

In 2013, Reis became the first-ever goalkeeper in MLS to go undefeated after making 10 or more starts, going 7-0-4 on the year. His 0.72 goals against average led MLS and was also the best season mark in his career. He shut out his first three opponents, and allowed more than one goal only three times all season. Buoyed in strong part by Reis’ stellar play, the Revs surged up the standings in the latter part of the season, jumping from seventh place to third place in the final month of the campaign.

Reis led the Revs into the postseason to face Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series, ultimately ending his career with a quadriceps tendon tear in the final minutes of the second leg of the series.

Reis’ consistent on-field performance in New England was noticed by the U.S. National Team. He made his National Team debut in 2006, posting a shutout in his international debut against Canada on Jan. 22, 2006. One year later, he earned his first international win with a 3-1 victory against Denmark. While he saw limited on-field activity for the National Team, he was a regular at National Team camp under Bruce Arena and was named as an alternate to the 2006 U.S. FIFA World Cup squad.

Reis’ impact extended off the field, where he was one of the Revolution’s most active players in the community. He was a four-time winner of the team’s humanitarian of the year award, and capped his career with the 2013 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year honor for his life-saving heroics and fundraising for a very special Boston Marathon bombing victim, his father-in-law, John Odom.

Active with children’s charities throughout his career – especially Boston Children’s Hospital – Reis got more involved in philanthropy later in his career by launching the Matt Reis Charity Golf Challenge. In three years (2011-13), Reis raised more than $350,000 for various charities, including Boston Children’s Hospital, Grassroot Soccer, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and the John Odom Recovery Fund.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT MATT REIS

“Matt has been the longest tenured player in the history of the Revolution and has set the standard to which all other goalkeepers will be measured for a long time to come. Notwithstanding all he has accomplished on the field and his success as a player, he has also been a tremendous ambassador for the game in all of his admirable charity work conducted in the community. On behalf of the Revolution, I want to wish him and his family all the best as he moves into the next stage of his career.”
- Mike Burns, General Manager, New England Revolution (2005-present)

“For me, the best teammates make the players around them better and Matt Reis certainly did that during his amazing career.  As Matt's teammate for eight seasons, he made me a much better player because he always made the incredible seem attainable.  Whether it was a timely save or his uplifting attitude in the locker room, Matt will retire as one of the greatest goalkeepers this league has ever seen.”
- Jay Heaps, teammate, New England Revolution (2003-09), head coach, New England Revolution (2012-present)

“I first heard of Matt Reis when I watched him in the 1997 College Cup, where he had the game of his life against Virginia in the semifinals, making like 11 saves or something ridiculous. So in 2003 when we acquired him, we knew we were getting a guy who could be a game-changer for us, and that’s something he proved true throughout his career. However, outside of everything that Matt did on the field during his whole career, what Matt did for his father-in-law after the Boston Marathon bombing will be the greatest highlight of his life. I'm proud to call Matt a teammate, but also more importantly, a friend.”
- Taylor Twellman, teammate, New England Revolution, 2003-2010

"Matt Reis was a fantastic player to play with, he always wanted to win. He's a bit of a practical joker in the locker room, knew how to keep everyone loose but also knew when to get serious. On the field, he was a great competitor, always organizing the team and constantly communicating. He was a great player and a great teammate."
- Steve Ralston, teammate, New England Revolution, 2003-2010

“Matt has been a great representative of Major League Soccer and the New England Revolution throughout his playing career. He is one of the most respected and admired goalkeepers in the history of the League. Matt brought a quality and class to the field that few players can emulate and it was an honor to have been his teammate. I know whatever path Matt takes in his post-playing career will be a successful one.”
- Pat Noonan, teammate, New England Revolution, 2003-07

“Congratulations to Matt Reis on a great career and I’m sorry it’s over. All those years we played together and roomed together on the road were really great, and I don’t know if I’ve ever played with a better goalkeeper. I wish him all the best going forward.”
- Jeff Larentowicz, teammate, New England Revolution, 2005-2009

“I was honored to coach Matt Reis at UCLA and with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Matt is an outstanding goalkeeper, quality person and a winner in life. It was a privilege to coach him for so many years.”
- Sigi Schmid, head coach, UCLA (1995-98) and LA Galaxy (1999-2002)

"I've had the pleasure of having played both alongside Matt and against him and it's quite apparent that he is able to coax the best out of everyone around him. His quality, his intensity, and his ability to communicate allowed his teammates to play with a confidence that I've rarely seen before. Matt is not only one of the best goalkeepers or teammates that I've ever seen, he's truly one of the greatest men that I ever had the opportunity to play alongside."
- Kevin Hartman, teammate, UCLA (1994-96) and Los Angeles Galaxy (1998-2002)

“I played against Matt in high school, played with him in college, played against him in MLS, and played with him with the National Team so, acting as Captain Obvious here, I've known him for a long time.  And I have never met a more sane and down-to-earth goalkeeper, and that's saying something!  Because, stereotypically, goalkeepers are a little crazy, and, let's be honest, I think you have to be if you voluntarily sign up to have people fire soccer balls at you and your face on a daily basis. But Matt, like his life off-the-field, takes everything in stride, never getting too high or too low emotionally, which makes him incredibly dependable!  He's made countless big saves in big games, he takes penalty kicks and buries them in the top corner in MLS Cups, he's always been cool and calm under any type of pressure and – one of my favorite parts about him – he never chastised the defenders in front of him for making a mistake.  He never yelled just to yell, he encouraged, he gave confidence, he made his teams and the players around him better because of it, and I'm sad to know that I'll never to get watch him perform professionally again. So good luck in phase two of your life, my old friend, and congrats on a great career!”
- Jimmy Conrad, teammate, UCLA (1996-97), U.S. National Team (2005-08)

“For me, it’s pretty simple: he’s not only one of the greatest goalkeepers in MLS, but also one of the greatest characters in MLS. He was the type of guy that brought the locker room together and he’s the kind of guy that any coach would want on his team. There’s a reason why he was at one club for so long and there’s a reason why guys like that are at one club for so long because he has a lot of respect. He has a lot of respect around the soccer world – not only for all the accolades he’s had as a goalkeeper – but as a person, as well, with all his charitable stuff that he’s doing, especially with everything that he’s been through over the years. He’s been able to overcome some major things and still come out of there with a smile and be able to put smiles on other people’s faces. I try to smile as much as I can and if I ever need a smile or a positive voice, I’m calling Matt Reis. Seeing his smile is infectious. What a great career. You never want to see those types of careers end; he’s had a great one. Whatever he does in the after part of his career, you know he’s going to thrive in because he’s a people person. He’s a fun-loving, high-energy guy, and who wouldn’t want to have that guy either in his organization or working for him one day? I’m bummed he’s leaving the game, but what a great friend! I have some great memories with him with UCLA and the National Team and all over the years. I’m actually looking forward to having some good times with him in the after part of our career.”
- Frankie Hejduk, teammate, UCLA (1994), U.S. National Team (2005-08)

"The effect that Matt had on every team he played for was palpable.  On the field, he was an obvious leader.  But Matt's best quality was what he brought to a team off the field.  He was the ultimate locker room guy that could relate to every player on the roster."
- Josh Keller, teammate, UCLA (1994-97)