Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Reading United A.C. may very well bring a few new visitors to Red Bull Arena for the first time, but one familiar player from the home side will be making his return to the pitch.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who has missed significant time away from the field since suffering season-ending hip surgery last summer, returns to Red Bull Arena Wednesday night for the first time in almost a year. After months of rehab and conditioning, there’s no question that he’s amped for the chance to get back in net.
“I’m definitely excited,” Meara said after Tuesday’s training session at Montclair State University. “It’s been too long since my last game and it’s nice to get back, mainly just to get back on the field with the guys. When you’re injured you can feel like you’re not part of it really; you don’t travel with the team and all that.
Meara last played for the Red Bulls on July 8, 2012, a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution. He would eventually have hip surgery a few weeks later that ultimately ended his 2012 season. The Fordham University product pieced together a 9-5-4 record during his rookie campaign, including three shutouts.
During his first season, Meara set a new record for rookie goalkeepers after he kept opponents off the board for 321 straight minutes during New York’s five-match winning streak last April/May. Impressive as it was, Meara already feels he’s now at a better place physically than he ever was last season.
“I feel stronger and better than I did last year,” Meara said. “[Wednesday's] going to be fun. I’m really excited about it.”
Regardless of how last season ended for the 'keeper, this is Meara’s first major step on the road to recovery. Minus a few minutes in a Reserve League match, and a number of training sessions, Meara is hungry for game time and ready to log a few minutes on the pitch. Even if it means having some pre-game jitters.
“I have a little bit of nerves tomorrow, but it’s all good nerves,” said Meara. “I’m more excited than anything else.”
New York begins its run for the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday at 7:30 PM. We’ll have a live stream of the match starting at that time, with MSG’s Steve Cangialosi and Shep Messing calling the action.
Tickets for Wednesday’s Open Cup match are available at Red Bulls Ticket Central, or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.