FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In many ways, this past Saturday night was like so many others for Matt Reis.
The New England Revolution’s all-time leader in every meaningful goalkeeping category, Reis was a commanding presence behind a sturdy back four and made three saves to shut down the Chicago Fire and claim his 73rd career shutout in a 2-0 win.
But this time was different, because the 38-year-old veteran at times questioned whether he’d ever get another chance to step on the field.
“I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to happen again,” said Reis, who has served as Bobby Shuttleworth’s backup this season after nine years as the undisputed number one. “But I was happy to help the team. It was a big game for us. We really needed the points and we came out and did everything we needed to do.”
Since picking up shutouts in two of the Revolution’s first three games this season, Reis had been limited to a trio of U.S. Open Cup appearances as Shuttleworth took the reins with a string of stellar performances.
But after the Revs suffered back-to-back losses – including a 3-0 setback last weekend in Kansas City – head coach Jay Heaps decided to shake things up from front to back. That included a return for Reis, who had last appeared in a league match on March 23, New England’s home opener.
“It’s a little bit feel, it’s a little bit going over a lot of film and just seeing where we might need an uptick in certain areas,” said Heaps. “I thought Matt has been training really well and pushing Bobby. Bobby’s played great all year. It’s a great little competition, but sometimes when guys are pushing in training, (you want) to reward and give an opportunity. I thought Matt earned it.”
Reis rewarded his coach’s faith with his third shutout in three appearances this season, helping the Revolution raise its league-best total to 12 clean sheets.
Whether Reis will remain the starter next weekend when the Philadelphia Union visits Foxborough remains to be seen, but if he does get back on the field, the legendary goalkeeper will cherish every moment.
“You never know when it’s going to be your last game. You never know,” Reis said. “You’ve always got to enjoy getting out there. It was a lot of fun.”