FOXBOROUGH - When it was all over and his 100th win was finally in the books, Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis tried his best to be as ho-hum about it as possible.
The milestone had been 15 years in the making.
The three straight losses the Revolution were riding going into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Colorado Rapids only made it feel longer.
But when it was finally real, after he had stopped six shots in the Revolution’s 2-1 win, Reis acknowledged the mark, then immediately tried to move past it.
“Kind of a relief,’’ he said. “It’s been there in the back of my mind, but it’s finally a hurdle to get over and move on and focus on the rest of the season.’’
But there was obviously a celebration.
The team masseuse, Glenn O’Connor, had a special jersey made for Reis with “100’’ as the number and he had been been waiting to gift it.
Reis slipped it on, posed for pictures, and signed it.
“That was nice,’’ he said. “I’ll put it up in the garage with all my other stuff.’’
But still, on a night when the Revolution showed signs of the toughness coach Jay Heaps said went missing during the skid, Reis did his best to shift the attention where it needed to be.
“We weren’t happy about losing three games,’’ Reis said. “It’s early in the season, but we need to get points. We can’t get too far back in the race. It was an honest team effort.’’
For Shalrie Joseph, who made his 250th career Major League Soccer appearance (all with the Revolution), it’s the Reis he’s come to know over his 10 seasons.
“That’s Matty, man,’’ said Joseph. “You’ve got to love Matty. Matty’s just easy-going and the greatest teammate we’ve ever had in this locker room. So for him it’s just another day, just another game.
“He’s going to look forward to probably playing till he’s 50 because he knows how good he is. Hopefully, he’ll keep us going.’’
Reis was typically sharp.
Dueling with Matt Pickens, the league leader in saves, Reis did his best to gobble up the Rapids’ offerings.
He devoured Omar Cummings’s laser from straight on in the 11th minute, read Martin Rivero’s header the whole way in the 30th, and walled off a cannon ball from Tony Cascio in the 32d.
“You feel confident with him back there,’’ Heaps said.
But the Revolution showed a grit they had been missing the past month.
New England came in 2-5, sitting in the Eastern Conference cellar, ahead of only winless Toronto FC, and more frustratingly it had fired 38 shots on goal coming in, but had just five goals to show for it.
Heaps stressed during the week that the time had come to start turning progress into points.
“We made a lot of strides as far as adding technical players and we showed that we have some good players, but I think we lost a little bit of that toughness, we lost a little bit of that grit, so that was a big thing this week, just how much stronger we need to be and it showed,’’ Heaps said.
When they gave up an early score to Jaime Castrillon in the 11th minute (the fifth goal they had allowed in the first 30 minutes this season), it looked as if they’d have to again battle from behind.
Then, the offense finally ignited.
Saer Sene connected in the 27th minute, biking in Stephen McCarthy’s header for his third goal of the season.
“It certainly wasn’t our best game from a standpoint of how we played,’’ Heaps said. “But what I really was excited about was the resolve we showed. Going down a goal we didn’t hang our heads, we fought back.’’
From there, New England stayed on the attack.
A.J. Soares nearly found the net, heading in a ball off Chris Tierney’s free kick that went wide right in the 32d minute.
But when Sene set up Fernando Cardenas with a nifty left-footed touch in the box, Cardenas finished it off, going high over Rapids keeper Matt Pickens, who got his finger tips on the ball but couldn’t keep it from sneaking under the crossbar.
With Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen both sitting, Cardenas made his second start of the season.
“I was excited to give him this opportunity because he earned it,’’ Heaps said.
The Revolution went into the intermission ahead, 2-1, and it was just the third time this season they went into the break with the lead.
For a team that’s battled injuries all season, it looked like its biggest health issue Wednesdsay might have been a stomach bug.
In the 37th minute, after dropping to the ground briefly just seconds earlier, defender Kevin Alston went down to one knee and vomited. Darrius Barnes had to come on to replace him.
Alston didn’t return.
“Everyone saw what happened,’’ Heaps said. “It wasn’t pretty. He played with a 102 temperature and when he got hit, he went into a coughing fit.’’
Joseph took a spill in the 47th minute, going head-over-heels leaping for a 50/50 ball with Castrillon.
He was shaken, but stayed in the game.
For Heaps, the win was more a measure of how much fight his team had.
“That was the theme,’’ Heaps said. “We’ve played pretty and we’ve given away games. It was really about: Forget about all of the pretty play. We’ve got to go out and play tough and that’s what we did.’’Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.