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Revs rallying behind in-form Shuttleworth ahead of MLS Cup final


Photo by Gary Rohman/USA Today Sports



TORRANCE, Calif. —  The New England Revolution’s run through both the regular season and MLS Playoffs has long been chalked up to the team’s attacking prowess, but the Eastern Conference champions would surely have struggled to advance to Sunday’s MLS Cup without the help of a seldom-acknowledged goalkeeper.

While stars Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones have earned a majority of the acclaim, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth has quietly put together a series of quality performances throughout the Revs’ stretch run.

Those performances have put the team on the precipice of the club’s first ever MLS Cup, which is something that Shuttleworth is proud to be a part of.

“I’m happy to be here. Obviously, anything I can do to contribute to us getting here and, hopefully, winning MLS Cup is great,” Shuttleworth said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to play for the Cup.”

Shuttleworth’s contributions have not gone unrecognized by his teammates, including summer signing Jones, who was quick to point out that the goalkeeper’s presence in the locker room is just as appreciated as his performance on the field.

“I think the whole team is happy that he’s had those saves,” Jones said. “He’s not only on the pitch a great guy, but outside of the pitch he’s a great guy too. We have a lot of fun in the locker room with him.

“It’s amazing to see that you have a goalkeeper behind you that gets not only easy balls, but sometimes really difficult balls. He catches those, too, so you’re more relaxed.”

Shuttleworth, by his own admission, did not always carry the relaxed presence that his teammates have come to praise.

Having spent four seasons primarily as a backup, Shuttleworth credits his development to former Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis, who, coincidentally, will be on the opposite bench Sunday as the LA Galaxy’s goalkeeper coach.

“I can’t say enough good things about Matty,” Shuttleworth said. “From day one when I came in, he was tremendous for me and he never pressed anything on me. He was always there to help whenever he could.”

Reis, who was a Revs mainstay from 2003-13, praised his former understudy’s determination and drive in the face of Shuttleworth’s early struggles. Despite scarce opportunities in the start of Shuttleworth’s career, Reis believes that the Revs goalkeeper has turned the corner to become a valuable member of a team bound for a cup final.

“It’s tough as a goalkeeper and there are a lot of different hurdles to get through. One of them is getting in and playing consistently over a long period of time,” Reis said. “It takes awhile and it takes a little bit of patience and his evolution has been great. He’s still so young, so be able to play in a final is awesome for him. When things aren’t going your way, that’s how you really tell the character of someone, so to see not only what he’s done, but what the Revs have done in getting through the season in the fashion they have is great.

“My first couple of years were very difficult and when I came in, I wanted to learn from him as much as I could and try to soak everything in,” Shuttleworth added. “He was  always very forthcoming with anything that worked for him, so he’s the type of person that I looked up to not only on the soccer field, but off the soccer field as well. He’s been a great mentor for me.”

With Reis’ guidance leading to 53 starts in the past two seasons, Shuttleworth has increasingly become more and more confident in his role within the team, which is something that Nguyen believes has become the difference-maker for the 27-year-old goalkeeper standout performances.

“He’s filled into his role and he’s confident. He knows that that’s his position and he’s our goalie,” Nguyen said. “He’s come up with so many big stops, not just in the postseason, but in getting us to where we were in the standings. Bobby was always a great goalie, but now you’re starting to see him confident and filling into his role.”

“I think that he put the time in and put the effort in to get to a point where he can start in this league and he’s done that.

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