FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was only the disquieting image of their standout goalkeeper lying injured on the Sporting Park turf which shook New England Revolution fans back to a startling realization on Wednesday night.
Matt Reis is, in fact, human.
Until the dying moments, when Reis rushed outside his area and crumpled to the ground with a non-contact left quad injury, he’d seemed more superhero than man. Reis spent the evening repelling wave after wave of Sporting Kansas City attack, punctuating a seven-save effort with a miraculous double-save in the 55th minute, first stopping Dom Dwyer’s close-range header before soaring outstretched to deny Benny Feilhaber’s follow-up.
All that was missing was the cape.
“That’s been the story the last couple months, really,” said A.J. Soares. “Matt Reis has been phenomenal. I’m really sad to see him go down with that injury. Hopefully he can bounce back quickly. He’s a stud.”
The extent of Reis’ injury is yet to be determined – “It’s too early to say, but it doesn’t look good,” head coach Jay Heaps said immediately after the game – but there’s no question the 38-year-old goalkeeper deserved a better ending to a 2013 season in which he further cemented legendary status both on and off the field.
Although the Revs ultimately succumbed to Sporting KC in extra time of a tightly-contested Eastern Conference Semifinal series, they likely wouldn’t have even been there without Reis. His leadership in the locker room provided a resolute foundation through a critical late-season stretch, while his on-field performance made him the first goalkeeper in MLS history to play 10-plus regular-season games without suffering a single loss.
“He really led us into the playoffs and through that last stretch of games where we needed to win all the time,” said Soares. “He really was the backbone and the guy that we leaned on. When we needed something to be said, a veteran presence to come in and let us know how it’s going to be done, he was the guy. When we slipped up in the back, he was the guy that made the save. He was great.”
Reis may have limped off the field at Sporting Park with the aid of young teammate Diego Fagundez and head athletic trainer Evan Allen – an emotionally powerful expression in and of itself – but that won’t be the lasting image of his stellar 2013 campaign.
Instead, Reis’ legendary season is best captured in the form of a goalkeeper soaring across his six-yard box, arms fully outstretched, making a save no one believed humanly possible.
A superhero clad in green.