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THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Reis set to return to lineup

Revolution keeper focused on stretch run

Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis is eager to play after a 20-day break. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis is eager to play after a 20-day break. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / September 7, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - An emotional storm and the threat of a hurricane combined to give Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis a three-week break in the season.

Reis, who will return to the lineup tonight when the Revolution visit Philadelphia, was suspended after being issued a red card in a bizarre dispute with referee Michael Kennedy at the conclusion of a 1-1 tie with Houston Aug. 17.

After missing the Revolution’s 2-2 tie with the New York Red Bulls Aug. 20, Reis was set to return against the Union Aug. 28. But the approach of Hurricane Irene prompted a postponement of the match, giving Reis a 20-day layoff.

“Every year, something new happens,’’ Reis said. “It’s given guys that were a little banged up time to get healthy and get some mobility back.

“Hopefully, we’re rejuvenated and can make that final push. It’s important - we’ve played so long - to take some time off and really use that time off to give yourself a mental and physical break.

“For us, every game is important. We are in dire need of some points, so we need to go in there and really put a strong defensive effort in and try and get a goal. That’s kind of what we’ve been trying to do all year. So, hopefully, we can get everybody working together.’’

Reis will be making his 250th regular-season appearance, which would tie Tony Meola for fifth place on the all-time list for MLS goalkeepers. Reis, who started his career with the Los Angeles Galaxy, has 210 Revolution appearances, third in team history behind Jay Heaps (243) and Shalrie Joseph (235).

The scheduling break gave the Revolution a chance to assimilate French midfielder Moncef Zerka, who is expected to make his MLS debut tonight.

“This is the part of the year you want games, you don’t want to sit around and practice,’’ said defender Ryan Cochrane. “So, I think everyone is kind of chomping at the bit to get back on the field.’’

The Revolution are hoping to make a playoff push with eight games remaining in the regular season.

“At this point, for me, it’s just kind of worrying about ourselves and make sure we’re right,’’ Cochrane said. “I mean, what’s tough, I feel like the last games I thought we played well. Obviously, we let teams get back in the game and that kind of bit us a little bit.

“On one part, you don’t want this big layoff, because I thought we were playing all right. But, saying that, we had time to sort things out as far as sharpening up in the back - late in games, especially.’’

Diego Fagundez could return to action after spending two games on the bench. Fagundez scored a goal in his first game, a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA Aug. 6. “It depends on what’s going on on the field,’’ said coach Steve Nicol. “Is he going to start? No.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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