By Nick Canelas
FOXBORO – Their circumstances were much different, but their role in getting the Revolution back on track were just as significant.
Forward Juan Agudelo and goalkeeper Matt Reis both made their returns to the Revs lineup Saturday night after extended absences from the playing field – Agudelo had been out with a knee injury since June 15 while Reis has served as backup to Bobby Shuttleworth since his last start March 13 – and both made their presence felt in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire to snap a two-match losing streak.
After being shut out in their previous two matches, the Revs needed a spark offensively. Agudelo provided just that in the 53rd minute.
Chris Tierney hit the forward with a pass the length of the field and Agudelo flicked it with the outside of his right foot up and over the head of oncoming Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson for his fourth goal of the season.
“I just thought the ball slowed down a little bit and it was just instinct,” Agudelo said. “I don't know why. Maybe a little South American swag, I don't know. But (I was) so happy it went in.”
Agudelo said that he felt ready to return to the lineup last week against Sporting KC. But the medical staff aired on the side of caution “because it was a knee injury, so it wouldn't be smart,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said afterwards.
Agudelo said after the game that he felt 110 percent out there.
“I felt really good and the training staff has done an awesome job to get me back and be fit because I came back and I didn't really feel that tired,” he said.
It was frustrating for Agudelo to have to watch his team struggle the last two weeks with him being so close to coming back, so it made it that much sweeter for him to be an integral part of the Revs' win on Saturday.
“It was a tough time to see my teammates at the 80th minute, 90th minute just reaching out for a breath and not be able to come out with wins,” Agudelo said. “I was lucky I was able to come back and help my teammates.”
Agudelo's tally was all New England would need thanks to Reis' efforts between the posts.
Reis made just his third start of the season Saturday, but showed no signs of rust and earned his third clean sheet in the process. He only had to make three saves on the night. But survived a scare in the 18th minute.
Chicago's Mike Magee had daylight in front of him, but his initial shot hit the right post as Reis dove across the net. The ball went right back to Magee rebound, but his bid went right into the outstretched hands of Reis.
“I think that's one of the things that I've always been good at throughout my career, whether it's college all the way up till now is even if don't get in a lot of games there isn't that much of a drop off when I do get in,” Reis said. “So it was nice to get back out there, it was great. (I) wasn't sure if it was ever gonna happen again but I was happy to help the team.”
Heaps made the decision to try to light a fire under his struggling team and found a spark. He might also have an interesting goalie competition on his hands.
“It's a little bit feel, it's a little bit going over film and just kind of going over seeing where we might need an uptick in certain areas and I thought that Matt's been training really well and pushing Bobby and Bobby's played great all year,” Heaps said of the decision to start Reis.
“So it's a great little competition but sometimes when guys are pushing and training (it's good) to reward and give an opportunity and I thought that Matt earned it.”
Asked if he was nervous before the match, Reis said he was. However, he was more concerned with enjoying what has been a rare moment for him this season.
“I think I've been doing this for long enough that the nerves are there, but it's excitement,” Reis said. “You never know when it's gonna be your last game and you always gotta enjoy getting out there and it was a lot of fun.”