The New England Revolution may have never won an MLS Cup, but the club has had some players whose postseason performances over the years were deserving of one. The Revolution reached the MLS Cup Final four times (2002, 2005, 2006, & 2007) and made the playoffs every year from 2002 till 2009. Now, back in the playoffs for the first time in four years and with Matt Reis and Andy Dorman the only players left who appeared in the 2007 MLS Cup, the Revolution will likely need a new player to step up and star if the team is to make a deep postseason run.
Here’s a look back at three players who have taken their game to the next level in past New England playoff runs.
3. Matt Reis in the 2007 Postseason
With eight career postseason shutouts, Reis has had a number of impressive postseason showings over the years for the Revolution, but perhaps none more dominant then his run in the 2007 playoffs. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Reis and the Revolution faced a strong New York Red Bull offense that was third in the league with 47 goals in 30 games during the regular season. The Red Bulls outshot New England, 13 to 8, at home in the first leg, but Reis made five saves and kept a clean sheet, allowing his club to return to Foxboro with a 0-0 draw.
Reis was again at the top of his game in the second leg in Foxboro. The Revolution were outshot by New York for the second straight match, this time 13 to 10, yet Reis managed to hold on for another shutout with four saves. This time the team managed to snag a 1-0 win to advance to the Conference Final.
The heroics from Reis rose to even greater heights in the Conference Final against the Chicago Fire. New England grabbed a first half lead and their veteran keeper made a then career-high 10 saves to assure it was enough. The Revolution, with a 1-0 win over the Fire, advanced to the MLS Cup for the third straight season.
In the MLS Cup, New England would again take a first half lead over the Houston Dynamo. Reis would make it stand past the hour mark – extending his 2007 postseason shutout streak to 330 minutes in the process – but the Dynamo would strike twice late to end the Revolution’s tiltle hopes and Reis’ incredible run.
2. Taylor Twellman in the 2007 Postseason
Reis’ heroics in goal were a big part of the Revolution’s run, but his great play all may have been for naught without some timely goals. Despite having the second best offense of the regular season with 51 goals in 30 games, New England’s offense was largely held in check in the postseason. The Revolution managed just three goals throughout the playoffs, with Twellman scoring all of them.
Steve Ralston and Shalrie Joseph – two other key postseason performers for the Revolution over the years – combined to set Twellman up for the game and series winner against the Red Bulls in the 64th minute of the second leg. Twellman’s stike would be the only goal for either team over the two legs.
Twellman’s most memorable postseason strike ever would come in the 38th minute of the Conference Final. With two defenders in close coverage, Twellman attempted to reach a Wells Thompson cross with an improbable bicycle kick and succeeded, sending the home crowd at Gillette Stadium to their feet and the Revolution to the MLS Cup for the fourth time.
The Revolution’s all-time leading scorer would hit for his and the team’s third and final goal of the postseason in the 20th minute of the MLS Cup against the Dynamo. Twellman rose above two defenders to head in a cross from Ralston, giving New England the lead. Twellman would nearly double his tally later in the half, but was denied by Houston keeper Pat Onstad. Unfortunately for the Revolution, Twellman’s lone goal wouldn’t stand and the Dynamo fought back for victory in the second half.
Honorable Mention: Twellman in 2006 Postseason
Postseason goals were nothing new for Twellman heading into 2007. The fantastic finisher already had seven postseason strikes prior to his heroics that season. Three of those goals came in 2006 – including one-timers in both the Conference Semifinals (a penalty kick win after a 2-2 aggregate draw over the Chicago Fire) and Conference Final (a 1-0 win over D.C. United). Twellman would then give the Revolution a 1-0 lead in overtime – the 113th minute – of the MLS Cup, but it was short lived as the Dynamo would strike back almost instantaneously and then win on penalties. Twellman also converted penalties in both shootouts.
1. Adin Brown in the 2002 Postseason
It’s hard to find another goalkeeper with a stretch of play as impressive as Brown’s run into and through the 2002 postseason. The Revolution went on a six game unbeaten run (5-0-1) into the playoffs with Brown allowing just three goals and making 26 saves in that stretch.
Brown was then almost unbeatable in the playoffs. He shutout the Chicago Fire in games one and three in the Conference Semifinal as the Revolution came away with 2-0 wins from both. The Fire scored twice in their game two victory, despite Brown making six saves.
New England needed Brown’s heroics again in the Conference Semifinals against the Columbus Crew. Brown made seven saves to salvage a 0-0 draw in the first game at home, then kept the clean sheet again in the second match in Columbus, to make Jay Heaps third minute goal stand as the winner. Brown would then face a barrage of shots in the third leg and held the Crew at bay for 80 minutes, making 10 saves – though he gave up two late goals – as New England advanced to the MLS Cup with the 2-2 draw.
Brown headed into the MLS Cup with four shutouts in the team’s first six playoff games. He’d look unbeatable in the Cup Final against the Supporters Shield winning Los Angeles Galaxy, making six saves and keeping the shutout into a second overtime period, before a defensive breakdown left him little chance to make a stop and the Revolution fell 1-0 on a 113th minute Carlos Ruiz strike.
At the end of the postseason, Brown finished with 42 saves, four shutouts and just five goals allowed in 673 minutes over seven games for a 0.67 goals against average.