FOXBOROUGH -- The Revolution know better than any team that a 2-0 lead isn't safe, considering that they had blown a two-goal lead twice in their last three games.
So in the 37th minute last night, with the scoreboard showing a 2-0 Revolution advantage and Toronto FC striker Jeff Cunningham charging toward the net, the game was at a crucial point.
Would the New England defense hold, or would the Revolution be in for another come-from-behind loss?
Cunningham's shot was blocked by diving goalkeeper Matt Reis, though Toronto forward Danny Dichio had a chance for a follow. As New England's Avery John slid in behind him to alter the shot, Dichio took a shot that bounced off of Reis's outstretched hand and toward the left corner of the goal.
But defender Jay Heaps was waiting with his cleats on the goal line, and he cleared the ball harmlessly away, the key moment in the Revolution's 3-0 victory at Gillette Stadium.
"It changed the momentum of the game. If they do that, then we go 2-1, and they go to the half with a little bit of momentum," said defender James Riley, describing the scenario that occurred last week when Columbus battled back to force a 3-3 tie. "So, yeah, definitely huge on that."
The victory was the Revolution's first since May 19 and returned them to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Reis notched his fifth shutout of the season, recording six saves and anchoring a back line that bent but didn't break against Toronto's attack.
"That's what good goalkeepers do," Riley said. "They know they need to make one big save to keep the guys in it. Actually, a couple huge, huge saves."
The offensive hero was Andy Dorman, who recorded a pair of goals -- his first since May 3. He struck in the 13th minute when a cross into the box from John bounced off the leg of Toronto defender Kevin Goldthwaite to Dorman, who punched home a gift-wrapped goal from 4 yards.
In the 81st minute, midfielder Khano Smith fed forward Adam Cristman at the top of the 18-yard box, and Cristman gave a nifty back heel pass to a streaking Dorman, who knocked in his second goal of the night, and fifth of the season.
Toronto did its best to challenge New England physically -- the visitors picked up four yellow cards for aggressive play -- but the mostly smaller and speedier Revolution were able to hold their own.
"We knew it was going to be a physical game, with that sort of team," Dorman said. "But we battled with them, battled hard all game and kind of matched them. And it meant we got the chances to finish off the game."
In the teams' first meeting April 14, Toronto was thoroughly dominated in a 4-0 loss. Last night the score was lopsided again, but Toronto gave the Revolution more of a scare.
"I think 3-0 maybe flatters it a wee bit," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "It wasn't easy. They put us under a lot of pressure in the second half. But we're talking about closing games out. And it was important in the second half that we didn't go gung-ho and charge forward and leave holes, and then we lose a goal."
New England didn't lose a goal, but they might have lost a midfielder.
Jeff Larentowicz -- who served a perfect ball to Pat Noonan for a header to the left corner of the net for a 2-0 edge in the 33d minute -- had to leave the game with an injured right eye. Larentowicz collided with a Toronto player in the 40th minute, coming off the field briefly but still finishing the half with a black eye. At halftime, he left the stadium in an ambulance and was taken to Massachusetts Ear and Eye Infirmary.
"He's got blurred vision, but the doctors are going to look at him," Nicol said. "Hopefully, it's a couple of days and he's fine.
"I don't think most people appreciate how good a passer of the ball he is and how he competes. And I guess when he comes out and we don't have him there, then you see the job he does do."
On this night, the job was done by the resurgent defense -- especially on Reis's momentum-swinging save.
"I spoke to [Reis] afterwards and said, 'It's huge when you do that,' " Nicol said. "It just settles everybody down."
Daniel Malloy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.