CARSON, Calif. – When Matt Reis left Southern California after being traded by the LA Galaxy to the New England Revolution in January 2003, he was just a 27-year-old, newly married goalkeeper hoping to make a career for himself in MLS. Now, at the age of 38, he returns with a family with years of experience that saw him become one of the league’s all-time great goalkeepers as a member of the Revolution and ready to embark upon another new journey— coaching.
Reis announced his retirement on Wednesday ending his illustrious 16-year MLS career that saw him make 288 appearances, while racking up 110 wins, 1,114 saves, and 76 shutouts, each of them among the top-10 all-time. Immediately following his retirement, Reis was announced as the Galaxy’s new goalkeeper coach, returning to the club that drafted him in 1998 and replacing Ian Feuer who had held the position for more than six years. The 38-year-old will work primarily with the first team but on evenings, he’ll work with the Galaxy Academy training young goalkeepers.
The decision to retire and pursue the next stage in his career came after Reis underwent surgery for a torn quadriceps injury following his heroic performance in the Revolution’s 3-1 defeat to eventual MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series.
“After getting injured in the last game, I knew that it was kind of time to retire. As that happened, [Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena] contacted me to see if there was interest and to see if I had plans for the future,” Reis told LAGalaxy.com. “I told him that there was a lot of interest, but I needed to see what [the Galaxy] were offering and what everyone else was offering. When it came down to it and I looked at all the offers on the table, [the Galaxy] is the one that made the most sense for me and my family.”
Reis admits that he had several offers including one from the Revolution to work with the club in a community relations capacity, but ultimately, the four-time MLS All-Star admitted that a chance to return to his hometown was too much to turn down. Among those family concerns was the condition of his father-in-law John Odom who was seriously injured during the Boston Marathon bombing in April and is still in the midst of his rehabilitation.
“With my family and my wife’s family being out in California, it made an ideal destination if I was going to catch on with any team in this kind of fashion. With everything that happened with the Marathon bombing in April and my father-in-law being a part of it, I was able to get closer to them and help them what they’re going through,” He said. “It’s a great opportunity. Also with my family being in Mission Viejo and a chance to get back to them after 11 years is a good opportunity too. All of our families are set up in Southern California and in the end; it tipped the scales to head back west.”
A chance to be with his family wasn’t the only reason as Reis, who has long since been interested in coaching, is excited to work with Arena. The former UCLA star made his international debut in 2006 and was a training camp regular for Arena during the build-up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup while also being named as an alternate for the tournament in Germany.
“He’s one of the best coaches in MLS and coaching the national team to the World Cup twice was an invaluable experience,” Reis said. “To have my first job as a coach professionally on his staff and hear what he has to say about situations and players is going to be great. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I told Bruce, maybe in the future, I can coach more than goalkeepers but as of right now, goalkeepers are what I know. We’ll start there and see where it takes us,” Reis added. “I know that I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to soak up in these next few months. I’ll get a chance to learn from the entire staff and I’m excited to jump in and get my feet wet.”
With an eye to his new venture, Reis and his wife Nicole have already begun to pack up their Boston-area home and the memories accumulated during their 11-year stay in New England. Although the process of moving across the country will undoubtedly be an emotional one, Reis is eager for his new beginning in an old and familiar place.
“It is crazy how things come back full circle,” said Reis, reflecting on his journey. “It’s fantastic for my family to come back to the only other team that I’ve ever known.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com