FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – An important aspect of being a goalkeeper is maintaining an even keel.
Bobby Shuttleworth has managed that despite bouncing back and forth between the starting position and a backup role on multiple occasions this season.
Shuttleworth began the 2013 campaign behind longtime starter Matt Reis, but a series of extraordinary events opened the door for Shuttleworth to get a run of games early in the season. The 26-year-old grabbed hold of his opportunity and started 20 consecutive games from the end of March through mid-August.
But when the Revs experienced a brief lull in performance, head coach Jay Heaps opted to make several changes, including at the goalkeeper position as Reis returned for four straight games.
Now that suspension will keep Reis out of this weekend’s trip to Chicago, Shuttleworth is poised to step back into the breach, and he’s treating Saturday’s game against the Fire like every opportunity he’s had in the past.
“Nothing’s really changed for me,” Shuttleworth said after Tuesday morning’s training session. “It’s the same kind of attitude. This is my fifth year in the league now, so I’ve been there, done that. I’ve been on the bench and then got a run of games, so it’s nothing new for me and I’m just happy to step back in.”
Shuttleworth actually stepped back in for the final 85 minutes of this past Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Montreal Impact after Reis was issued a straight red card in the opening stages. It was a thankless position for Shuttleworth as he faced two first-half penalty kicks after coming in cold off the bench.
With Reis now suspended and rookie goalkeeper Luis Soffner (R hip flexor strain) injured, league pool goalkeeper Brad Stuver has been called in to serve as Shuttleworth’s backup for Saturday night’s pivotal clash with Chicago. But it’s Shuttleworth who’ll be called upon to keep the Fire at bay and bolster the Revolution’s playoff hopes.
“It’s a huge game for us,” he said. “There are six or seven teams pushing for five spots, so every point’s going to matter, every result’s going to matter, every goal might matter.”
Shuttleworth’s goal on Saturday night will be to not concede any, and despite a recent stint on the bench, Heaps is confident his young goalkeeper has never stopped preparing for this exact scenario.
“I think Bobby’s been someone who’s been training every week to get back in the starting lineup,” Heaps said. “It comes in a different set of circumstances, but he’s back in and he’ll be ready to go.”