Shuttleworth shines between the sticks

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bobby Shuttleworth likes to scream at his teammates. A lot.

During Saturday night’s match against Kansas City, it was clear that the former third-string keeper wasn’t the quiet type. At all.

But all that shouting and yelling wasn’t intended to be malicious or mean-spirited. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I try to help out these guys as much as I can and scream at them,” said a surprisingly nonchalant Shuttleworth after Saturday night’s match. “I have to let them know whenever a runner’s coming through.”

One of the biggest problems many young keepers experience is the reluctance to bark at their older teammates. No one wants to show up a veteran for fear of serious reprimand or isolation from the rest of the clubhouse.

Of course, it helps when he’s stationed behind an equally youthful set of defenders. In any event, his teammates understand that the shouts aren’t public critiques.

“He was very vocal while we were out there,” said defender Seth Sinovic. “He’s always talking to us always and putting us in the right positions.”

And that’s often what separates a self-confident keeper from a self-conscious one: the presence to command his teammates to get themselves in good positions. It’s not just for him: it’s for the rest of the team as well.

“If I can help them out in any way, it not only makes their job easier,” said Shuttleworth. “But it makes my job easier as well.”

On Saturday night, it was clear that with an opponent hungry and advancing at will with playoff implications in the air, the Revolution would need that type of leadership between the pipes. And once the score settled at 1-0, it was evident that the recent University of Buffalo graduate had clearly earned their respect.

“Bobby was awesome,” said Revolution skipper Shalrie Joseph. “He’s been working hard. He was our MVP this week. He came in and replaced Matt (Reis) and we didn’t even miss Matt tonight.”

Note: whenever your captain suggests that your performance is the equivalent to that of a league stalwart, there aren’t many things you’re doing wrong. Suffice to say, the second-year keeper is doing a lot of things right – thanks, in large part, to shadowing the experienced Reis, and the similarly-seasoned Preston Burpo.

“Those two guys are great,” said Shuttleworth. “Matty’s been awesome and Preston’s been great. Both of those guys have been in the league forever. They’re both veterans and they know how to train and how to play so whenever they can help me, they’ve tried to help me, which has been fantastic.”

And much like his veteran mates, Shuttleworth, who stopped all four shots he saw against the Wizards to earn his first professional shutout, casually deflected the attention to the players in front of him.

“I didn’t have to make many saves,” said Shuttleworth. “I thought that the back four was really solid. It was a pretty easy day.”

With only one match remaining on the regular season schedule, Shuttleworth will find himself between the sticks one final time before it’s time to hang up the boots for the winter.

However, at least one of his teammates sees a bright future for the former third-stringer.

“He’s going to get even better,” said Joseph. “This is only his second season. He’s probably already looking toward 2011 when he’s going to be pushing Matt and Preston to be better.”

That is, of course, if the up-and-coming keeper hasn’t already stolen the starting spot from either one of his veteran counterparts.

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com