TUCSON, Ariz. – You’ve got to give something to get something.
That was most certainly the case for the New England Revolution earlier this week when the club dealt veteran goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to Minnesota United FC in exchange for Femi Hollinger-Janzen.
It was a decision the Revolution didn’t make lightly considering Shuttleworth’s history with the club, having played eight seasons in New England, most notably back-stopping the club to an Eastern Conference title and an appearance in MLS Cup in 2014.
“When you have a player that’s been at a club for as long as he has, he’s due the utmost respect,” said head coach Jay Heaps, who was still a player himself when Shuttleworth signed as a rookie in 2009. “He’s always earned it from us. He played every day as hard as he could, and it’s sad to see him go.
“Bobby’s a player that we feel like we developed, and we felt like he was a really big part of our club.”
But the emergence of Brad Knighton toward the end of last season and the arrival of Cody Cropper around the same time created a bit of a logjam at the goalkeeper position. Add youngster Matt Turner into the mix and New England felt they had four legitimate options between the sticks.
Under the guidance of assistant coach Remi Roy, that trio will now continue the battle for minutes while pushing each other to be at their best each day.
“It’s a great competition, still,” Heaps said. “In Cody and Brad and Turner, you’ve got three guys that are really connected well. Brad is such a good leader for them. They communicate really well with Brad.
“Goalkeepers do their thing a lot. They’re off to the side (in training) a lot. Watching that over the last couple weeks and even last year a little bit, seeing the three of them and their dynamic was really good. Now we want to build on that.”
“I feel that the camaraderie between myself, Brad, Matt and Remi is very good,” said Cropper. “We can definitely take that into the season. Whoever wins the spot is obviously very earning of it. It’s only going to make all three of us better, because we’re going to feed off one another and compete with one another.”
The competition for that starting goalkeeper spot will hit its peak in the next week or so as the Revs wrap up their preseason preparation with their final three matches in the Desert Diamond Cup. By next weekend it may be clear who’s won the starting job for the opener against Colorado on March 4.
But Heaps made it known that the goalkeeper competition isn’t merely a preseason competition, but one that will continue into and throughout the entire campaign.
“The starter day one may not be the starter week five,” said Heaps. “We want to make sure that we continue to get better in the goalkeeper area. Obviously that didn’t happen when we traded Bobby, but at the same time, we feel that those three can really put together good group performances.”