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New England-Sporting KC Man of the Match: Matt Reis

Matt Reis head shot

Maybe this is old hat for Matt Reis, who has put his big gloves on the business end of meaningful saves getting into the league back in 1998. But most of his New England Revolution teammates have never been in an MLS playoff match, must less claimed victory in one.

So Reis’ impressive, important save on Dom Dwyer’s big blast near Saturday’s final whistle simply cannot be underestimated.

Rather than going into this week’s return leg all even, the Revolution will take a 2-1 margin. That’s a huge difference for a team stocking stuffed full of players with no MLS playoff experience. Sporting Park will be an absolute bear as it is – and going in there without an edge on the scoreboard would make things that much tougher.

(MORE: New England’s 2-1 win provides tentative margin for second leg)

Reis didn’t have a lot to do Saturday as both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances. Reis did make himself big in the first half as Teal Bunbury brought down Graham Zusi’s delicate, long pass. But Reis took up a good spot, encouraging Bunbury to hurry his shot, which was directly at the Revs’ veteran goalkeeper.

Late in the match, Dwyer turned swiftly and made a little room for himself inside the penalty area, to Reis’ right. The Revs’ goalkeeper again found the right spot, cutting the angle but standing his ground, forcing Dwyer to beat him rather than guessing and moving to one side on the big volley, as some goalkeepers might have.

Here’s the big save: