A familiar sight for Ryan Meara, stopping another shot from going into the net Saturday night. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
The most patient man in all of Major League Soccer?
It has to be Ryan Meara, hands down because he is demonstrating he is the good hand’s man for the Red Bulls.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper has been waiting eight years to regain his job and it appears the Yonkers, N.Y. native has done that.
He has backstopped the Red Bulls in three consecutive matches since the MLS’ return to play at home, most recently in the team’s 1-1 draw at the New England Revolution Saturday night.
In fact, Meara met the challenge and then some during the waning minutes of the match snaring or knocking crosses and shots out of harm’s way to secure the road point.
“I feel good and I feel like I am seeing the game good and I feel sharp,” Meara said after the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
“It’s been a big help that the defense has been so solid especially the last couple games. We’ve played against some tough attacking players and we really stood up and not giving up too many chances. There’s always things we can clean up but I think we’re happy tonight with the 1-1 result.”
Meara has aquitted himself well. The Red Bulls are 1-1-1 in his three games. Denmark native David Jensen, acquired during the offseason, guarded the goal in the club’s first games before head coach Chris Armas decided to give the one-time Fordham University standout an opportunity.
Given his humble nature, it was not surprising that Meara gave credit to his backline.
“Defensively, I’m very comfortable with whoever’s in front of me,” he said. “We have a good unit, both with our regular first team guys and the backups. Tonight was a big opportunity for guys like Amro [Tarek] and Manny [Egbo] and Patrick [Seagrist] and even guys up the field, like Ben [Mines] and Omir [Fernandez].
“Everyone stood up to the test. These guys have been working so hard in training and I’ve been there and been that guy on the outside so I have a lot of sympathy for them. It’s great to see when they get their opportunities that they stand up and contribute. Going forward, we’re going to have a game every three, four or five days until November, so it’s huge to have that depth. It’s definitely something to build on.
Speaking of opportunities, Meara secured the team’s spot as its top goalkeeper as a rookie in 2012. He played well over 18 games before a hip injury shelved him for the season. Later that year the Red Bulls signed then journeyman Luis Robles, who became an iron man in the net through 2019.
In the meantime, Meara hardly saw any action with the first team in MLS. Prior to this season, he made four appearances with the Red Bulls. That did not include one game during New York City FC’s inaugural season as a backup when he was loaned to the expansion team as part of a trade.
Meara did make several appearances in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League matches. While he did well in those games, they were sporadic appearances.
It appears the position is his to keep.
Give Meara a lot of credit to keep his patience and his game at a high level.