Every Major League Soccer offseason brings change. But sometimes the offseason brings unwanted changes.
That is the case for Columbus Crew SC. Head coach Caleb Porter confirmed on Wednesday that goalkeeper coach Matt Reis has left the club. Reis was not present for either of the team’s postseason training sessions that were opened to the media.
“Matt’s left the club,” Porter said at the team’s training ground following practice Wednesday. “I don’t know if you guys realized but all year long, his family was still in California. So no, unfortunately, they’re not able to move here. His wife has a job in California, a good job, and he took a job on the West Coast. So we’ll really miss him. He’s a great guy and did really well with our goalkeepers this year.”
Reis joined the club in January as part of Porter’s first staff in Columbus. In his one year with the Black & Gold, he coached a team that went through plenty of changes at goalkeeper. Prior to the season, the Crew announced that starting goalkeeper Zack Steffen would leave to join Manchester City in July. Columbus brought in MLS veteran Joe Bendik to compete with Jon Kempin for the backup job and potentially earn the starting spot after Steffen’s departure. The Black & Gold signed Curaçao National Team goalkeeper Eloy Room in July to become the club’s full-time starter.
With Reis as their coach, Steffen posted a 1.31 goals against average in his 13 starts, recording 39 saves and registering four shutouts. Room, who started 12 matches, was one of the league’s best goalkeepers in the second half of the season with a 1.17 goals against average and one shutout.
Prior to coming to Columbus, Reis worked as a goalkeeper coach for the LA Galaxy and the U.S. Men’s National Team. He is also a former 16-year veteran of MLS as a player, suiting up for the Galaxy and the New England Revolution.
With Reis now departed, the Crew is searching for a new goalkeeper coach, although there is no timetable for when Porter will make an addition to his staff.
“Obviously, there’s some teams still playing right now,” the head coach said. “We’ll, like always, try to get the best guy that we can get. So we already have a list and obviously we have a technical director who knows that position inside and out. So he’s going to obviously have really good input on and be able to find guys.
“A lot of guys we found want to be in Columbus. With the excitement of new ownership, new stadium, the way that we played at the end of the year, the direction we’re headed, in talking to potential players and talking to potential staff, there’s real momentum and a lot of people want to be here. So I think we’ll definitely be finding a good guy.”
In the meantime, Academy coach David Winner, a former Crew and MLS goalkeeper himself, is working with Room and Kempin during the Black & Gold’s postseason training sessions. Porter promoted Ben Cross from an Academy coach to a first-team assistant prior to the season and would like these types of opportunities to continue in the future.
“It was really easy in these four weeks to pull him up,” Porter said of Winner. “We’re trying to create a club where we’re vertically integrated, and that’s not just the players, it’s the coaches too... We want to see a pathway to the first-team through our Academy coaching development as well.
“We always pull back the curtain for our Academy coaches. They’re able to watch training every day. We have a great relationship with them and it’s important that they see what we’re doing and also to be able to measure.”
As for the rest of the Crew staff, which features Cross, Pablo Moreria and Ezra Henderickson, Porter was pleased with what he got from the group this year and does not anticipate any other changes.
“I don’t expect any more turnover on our staff, which for me is really important because we need to have a chemistry in our staff as well and and in our locker room and the way that we work,” the head coach said. “So again, these four weeks (of training) is another opportunity for us to kind of dial in the way our staff works together. But I was really pleased with the end of the year with Ezra and Ben and Pablo and Matt.”