FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It wasn’t easy being Matt Reis in recent weeks.
In the three games prior to Saturday’s contest, the Revolution goalkeeper had watched -- often helplessly -- eight shots find the back of his net as opponents sliced and diced the defense in front of him.
But with the Union in town, the 15-year veteran turned the page and stopped seven shots to earn his fifth shutout of the season on Saturday.
“Matt was huge,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes said after Saturday’s 0-0 draw. “Matt saved us on a bunch of occasions. There were times we thought a couple of their players were offside and Matt bailed us out.”
Even though both attacks were slow to get their motors started, the Union unleashed a fierce offensive in the minutes leading up to the interval.
In the 39th minute, Gabriel Farfan launched a cross toward the far post that Sheanon Williams was ready to pounce on. But Reis came off his line to punch it away before the ball was cleared out of danger.
Four minutes later, Brian Carroll sneaked a pass through a pair of Revolution defenders toward Antoine Hoppenot, who grabbed it, then took it toward the near post. Though Hoppenot’s pounded a well-placed shot, Reis leaned to his right to close the door and keep the Union off the board.
“It was good to see Matty saving us quite a few times there today,” Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said after the game. “It was good to see that, especially after the amount of goals we’ve given up in the last few games.”
After keeping the scoreboard unblemished in the first half, Reis was tested again in the opening moments of the second stanza. And it unfolded in strikingly similar fashion.
With Hoppenot beating the offside trap, Reis once again found himself as the last line of defense. This time, however, the veteran keeper extended his left leg and trapped Hoppenot’s shot before it inflicted any damage.
The Union were knocking on Reis’ doorstep again in the 54th minute when Williams hit a skipping shot through the legs of Michael Farfan, who screened the keeper on the shot. But once again, Reis came to the rescue as he followed the trick trajectory before covering it up deep in the six.
Yet, even though Revolution coach Jay Heaps called his reliable keeper “the best player on the field” during his postgame press conference, Reis was quick to credit a pair of rarely-used veteran defenders -- Barnes and Flo Lechner -- for the shutout.
“It’s a testament to the guys that plugged in and we stepped in there,” Reis said after the game. “We did a good job of communicating tonight and that kept everyone in the game.”
While it was clear that Reis and his defenders had an open dialogue throughout Saturday’s game, Barnes hinted that the veteran keeper’s shot-stopping prowess on Saturday only served as a reminder of his ability to rescue his teammates from certain disaster.
“He’s been bailing us out all year,” Barnes said. “He’s come up with big saves and that’s what we expect from our veteran keeper.”