By Pat Martin, MLS Editor
Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) -
Matt Reis and Pat Onstad - who will match up as starting goalkeepers for their respective teams in the 2007 Major League Soccer Cup Championship on Sunday at RFK Stadium - are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to personality.
Onstad is a former teacher who spends time in the offseason making appearances at schools to talk about the importance of education, while Reis is a California jokester whose favorite actor is Will Ferrell.
"Straight off, he is a goalie so they are obviously different right from the kickoff," New England coach Steve Nicol quipped. "But (Reis is) calm and obviously experienced.
"Matt has a wacky sense of humor and he brings things into training and talks about stuff and half the people don't know what he's on about most of the time," Nicol added.
You won't hear the same said of his counterpart.
Pat Onstad set a league record with a 0.82 goals against average in the regular season.
"Goalkeepers get a misnomer about being the crazy people of soccer," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "The one thing about Pat (Onstad) is he is a fairly normal guy. He is very serious."
Not only do Reis and Onstad have different personalities, they have traveled much different routes to the positions they currently occupy.
Since being drafted in 1998 by the Los Angeles Galaxy, Reis was a backup in L.A. before the Revolution traded for him in 2003. He was then a backup to Adin Brown until taking over as the starter in 2004. Since then, all the 10-year league veteran has done is set team records in games played, games started, minutes played, goals against average, wins, saves, shutouts and save percentage.
"I sat for seven years and watched a lot of other people do it, and now having a chance to do it myself, I'm really taking the opportunity," Reis said.
Reis, 32, is also the current MLS postseason leader in goals against average and save percentage, while being in the top five in saves, wins and winning percentage.
"A young player coming into a situation here, you look at a guy like Matt Reis and look at what he has managed to achieve in his career here so far," Nicol said. "I think it just gives the young guys confidence."
Houston's Onstad is seven years older than Reis, but has five less years of MLS experience, joining San Jose in 2003 after playing in the United Soccer Leagues for eight years while also playing as the Canadian national team's top goalkeeper for a number of years. All Onstad did in his first year in MLS was become the San Jose single-season leader in goals against average, wins, shutouts and games played while winning the league's Goalkeeper of the Year award. He was also a pivotal piece of the franchise's second MLS Cup in three seasons.
Matt Reis is the current MLS postseason leader in goals against average and save percentage.
"When we lost Joe Cannon (after the 2002 season) I was very satisfied to know that we were going to have another great 'keeper to guard out net," fellow Canadian and current Houston teammate Dwayne De Rosario said of Onstad. "He has come on and he has done well. He has been very successful from the time he stepped into this league."
Since that first season, Onstad has also been named team Defensive Player of the Year (2004) and led the league in shutouts, goals against average, save percentage and wins en route to his second league Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2005. He didn't slow down when the franchise moved to Houston in 2006, playing every minute for the team while making the championship-clinching save in the penalty kick shootout win over New England.
Even with their differences, Reis and Onstad have one very important thing in common: they are two of the top goalies in the league.
"Matty (Reis) is one of those guys you need in the locker room because he keeps things loose and he keeps things relaxed," Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. "He makes it fun to be at practice some days when you are just tired ... and seeing him always smiling, and seeing him always with a laugh on his face, it just brightens up the mood."
"I think he has a good understanding of the game," Kinnear said of Onstad. "He is a good communicator and organizer. He lets defenders do the defending and I think his positional sense is second to none. He always seems to be in the right area."
Both goalkeepers have stayed true to past form this season. Onstad set a league record with a 0.82 goals against average in the regular season while posting 13 wins and 11 shutouts. Reis earned 14 wins while making 120 saves and posting three straight playoff clean sheets to lead the Revs to their third straight MLS Cup title match.
Both will be counted on to continue that form Sunday, when the Dynamo will be looking to repeat as MLS Champions and the Revs will be looking for their first league championship after advancing to the final for the third consecutive season.
"He has been solid all year, he had another great year, and we are going to need him to come up huge on Sunday again for us," Joseph said of Reis.
"Goalkeepers and goalkeeping statistics are a little skewed because if you have a really good team in front of you, your statistics are going to be great," Reis said. "But at the same time, when it comes down to it, you have to make the saves."
And when the Revolution and Dynamo square off Sunday afternoon for the league's 12th championship, both teams will be confident that their respective goalkeepers will make the saves.