Reis shines behind new-look backline

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After conceding a total of nine goals in the past three games, the New England Revolution featured a retooled backline for Saturday night’s meeting with the Philadelphia Union. Darrius Barnes (center back) and Flo Lechner (right back) came into the team, while Kevin Alston switched sides to make his first professional start at left back.

But amongst the new faces it was a familiar presence which shined brightest as veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis made several key stops to guide the Revs to their sixth clean sheet of the season in a 0-0 draw with the Union.

“Matt was huge,” said Barnes. “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. He’s been bailing us out all year. He’s come up with big saves and that’s what we expect from our veteran keeper.”

Reis’ biggest saves arrived immediately before and after the halftime break. Twice he denied rookie forward Antoine Hoppenot from strong positions before making perhaps his best stop of the night on Brian Carroll’s point-blank effort in the 51st minute.

“He was our best player,” head coach Jay Heaps said of his goalkeeper and former teammate. “For me, he made good saves. He came out for crosses, made some plays. It wasn’t an easy night for him and he did well.”

Unfortunately for the Revolution, Reis’ heroics were the highlight on a night when the home side failed to replicate the attacking thrust which had seen them score three goals in each of the past two matches. The Revs didn’t register their first shot until the 61st minute – a Stephen McCarthy header which flashed well wide – and they never truly tested young Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

Pushing ahead to Wednesday night’s meeting with the red-hot Columbus Crew, the Revs will hope to build upon Saturday night’s solid defensive performance while rediscovering the offensive form which had recently seen them score in bunches.

“We have to piece together our defensive effort tonight with the offensive effort that we had the past couple of games,” said Barnes. “Hopefully we can try and put that together on Wednesday.

“I think Wednesday is a must-win for us. We keep saying that but we definitely have to try and get three points by whatever means necessary, whether it’s pretty or ugly. We have to try to get the ball in the back of the net and try for a clean sheet like we did tonight.”