Reis credits defense for Revs' run

Goalkeepers are known for their outward, eccentric sensibilities, cultured from years of assault by the opposition.

When you encounter New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, whether between the posts, off the field, or parading as foreign signing Fangoso, the stereotype may just stick.

"He's always got something to say," said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol. "He has a great way about him."

The affable UCLA product has risen to the occasion in the past two years, as injuries to Adin Brown allowed Reis a chance to shed the image of perennial backup earned after serving as Kevin Hartman's understudy in Los Angeles.

After a successful first season as starter, the Revolution defense has improved markedly as the team is off to its best-ever start. Reis has kept seven clean sheets on the season. With his good form on the minds of voters, he leads all MLS goalkeepers in All-Star balloting.

"I'm definitely not doing it by myself," said Reis. "In a couple of games this year, I only faced one or two shots. Our team offense and our team defense are really helping me.

Central to that defense is rookie center back Michael Parkhurst. Reis said the chemistry between rookie and veteran was instant.

"I was thinking about how easy it was to fall into [the other day]," said Reis. "It was a seamless transition [when Michael came in]. His locker is next to mine, so I talk to him every day. We've worked out some things on the field. He cuts out things before they happen, and he has great recovery speed."

Reis notes that the key cog in his defense shows veteran tendencies, stemming the threats of opposing strikers with professionalism beyond his years.

"[Michael] doesn't play like a rookie," said Reis. "He has a great knowledge of the game. He acts like he's 30. He has a 30-year-old type body. You might say that he has an old soul."

With Parkhurst in front of him, Reis is off to the best statistical season of his career. In addition to the seven shutouts, Reis has allowed only 10 goals on the campaign, allowing less than a goal per match.

Some may wonder if the miserly defense in front of Reis has helped pad the stat line, but Revolution manager Nicol dismisses the notion.

"It helps him when they are in good spots," said Nicol. "He's getting them there. The four at the back have to do it together. He's marshaling them by talking and helping them out. He still has to concentrate whether he's busy or not. He has to maintain his focus."

Reis insists that personal stats mean little if his side are not on form and winning matches.

"[Shutouts] matter for the team," said Reis. "We're giving ourselves a good chance to win when we get a shutout. I'm not thinking, 'Oh, I have seven shutouts, let's see if I can get to eight.' I'm thinking about getting three points and moving up the table."

Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MSLnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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