The following story was published in the Revolution’s “Match Day” program for the Aug. 12 game against the Montreal Impact
Want to make Ryan Guy laugh? Ask him what field position he considers himself to be.
Want to stump Ryan Guy? Ask him where he will be playing next weekend.
Both answers will be the same.
“I’d say on the field,” chuckles Guy. “At this point and time I’m very happy saying I play all over.”
Since joining the Revs in June 2011, Ryan Guy has fought to earn time on the pitch, wherever that may be. After one start and four substitute appearances, Guy earned five straight starts at the end of the 2011 season, earning the respect of his teammates and coaching staff. He’d have to practically start all over ahead of the 2012 season: a change and a challenge Guy welcomed.
“I’ve always believed that change is for the better and it’s a matter of the personnel if they make that change better. From the start, Jay’s been very positive,” said Guy. “That’s the attitude that I try to have day in and day out. It was certainly a challenge but one I certainly took on full-force.”
In 12 appearances – including 10 starts – under Jay Heaps, Guy has seen time from box to box. With four starts at right wing, four at forward, two in the central midfield and countless mid-game shifts to the backline, Guy makes transitions look easy. He’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t always the case.
“It’s been a little hectic for me: switching in between positions isn’t something that I’m totally used to. I enjoy playing multiple positions: every position brings new challenges and I feel that I can bring different parts of my skill set to each position,” said Guy.
Game preparation has been a staple of Heaps’ coaching style in reviewing film and opponent style tendencies. The weekly routine for Guy is a little bit different than his teammates. Heaps will bring Guy into his office to tell him his thoughts on the upcoming week and where he foresees Guy playing. It’s the first time during the week that Guy mentally flips a positional switch in his mind. It won’t be the last time, as he may be asked to play elsewhere the day before or minutes before the final whistle.
“The truth is I need to have multiple switches ready to turn on and off because I know throughout the course of a game whether its injuries or substitutions or the way the match is panning out, I know I have to be able to adapt and change my game based on where I’m put,” said Guy.
Every team has a utility player. The position is created out of necessity. But who does the coach turn to? It all comes down to which player in the locker room a head coach has enough trust in to step in anywhere, at any point. That doesn’t mean “maybe” he’d fit in at right back or he “could” balance out a second forward at top; he “will” and he “does” are instead used.
“I know [Jay] expects a lot from me and I certainly expect a lot from myself,” said Guy. “Having that and the respect of the guys on the team, knowing they trust me wherever I’m going to be put on the field I think really helps.”
Being a point person comes with consistency. Guy believes his greatest accomplishment this season was bouncing back into that starting role after missing four matches from April 28 to May 12 with right calf tightness.
Sometimes, leadership hits home in the locker room the most when a key player can battle through the adversity created by an injury.
“Hopefully that’s helped the team with morale knowing guys can go down and come back and still assert themselves as a positive part of the team,” said Guy.
Most impressive about Guy though is his humility in accepting his position on this year’s team. He hasn’t scored a goal this season, but he’s been the Revolution’s Sovereign Bank Man of the Match in two of the last three matches. His success on the field is determined by helping make his teammates around him look good.
“A team player really has to embrace all of the facets of the game. For me, I understand that my role is exactly that: to have the mentality that I can be put anywhere on the field,” said Guy.
As long as Guy gets to play and is on the field, it doesn’t really matter to him where he’s put. Jay Heaps quipped that in the July 21 match at Sporting KC when Matt Reis went down briefly in stoppage time, Guy would have been the go-to person to play in net for the remainder of the match. Guy hasn’t been training with the goalkeepers since, but he knows that as the Revs make a push for the playoffs, he’ll be ready to step in as needed.
“Everyone has something different that they’re working on,” said Guy. “Being the utility man isn’t better or worse, it’s just an integral part of the team and I’m happy to be that guy.”