FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With just one goal scored through their first two matches – Lee Nguyen’s successful penalty kick last weekend in Dallas – the New England Revolution will be looking to kick-start their attack in Saturday afternoon’s home opener against Minnesota United FC.
But the man likely tasked with stifling the Revolution attack will be a familiar face.
Bobby Shuttleworth, who spent the first eight years of his career in New England and was the club’s starting goalkeeper for four years, returns to Foxborough this weekend with the Loons, one month after he was traded in exchange for Femi Hollinger-Janzen.
Slowed by a preseason injury, Shuttleworth earned his first start with Minnesota this past weekend and helped the expansion side earn their first-ever MLS point in a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids.
“It’ll certainly be strange (to see him on the other side),” said head coach Jay Heaps, who was both a teammate (2009) and coach (2012-17) to Shuttleworth. “Bobby left here under really good terms. He got his start here, most of his career was coached by Remi Roy, and our coaching staff really liked Bobby.
“We’re excited to have him get the opportunity he’s getting in Minnesota.”
Competitively, Shuttleworth presents a unique challenge for the Revs. Having trained daily with the Revolution for the past eight years, the 29-year-old goalkeeper possesses an extensive knowledge of each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
On the flip side, New England’s attack has a similar knowledge of Shuttleworth’s game, and that familiarity could well play a role on Saturday afternoon.
“He knows the way we play and what we can do, so it’s going to be tough,” said Diego Fagundez, who has known Shuttleworth since he was 15 years old. “It’s going to be a good competition.”
“Playing against your friends is usually not easy – or playing against old teammates – because you kind of know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Kei Kamara. “But all the goalkeepers that I’ve played with, I never try to show them everything that I can do.
“He’s going to be sharp. That’s the one thing we have to know, because he respects us a lot.”
Shuttleworth has plenty of friends in the Revolution locker room, but perhaps none more so than Chris Tierney, his teammate (and often his road roommate) since 2009. The pair suited up alongside each other more than 100 times in recent years, and both started MLS Cup in 2014.
But while Tierney is looking forward to seeing his close friend this weekend, their friendship will be put on the backburner for 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon.
“It’ll be great to see Bobby, of course. He’s a good friend of mine,” said Tierney. “But once the whistle blows, Bobby will be the first one to tell you, we’re not going to pay any mind to each other whatsoever.
“It’ll be great to see him before and after the game, but other than that, it’s business as usual.”