New England Soccer Today

Cropper Keeps Clean Sheet in Debut

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When the New England Revolution signed 23-year-old goalkeeper Cody Cropper on August 18, it seemed unlikely the young ‘keeper would see much action this season playing behind established veterans Brad Knighton and Bobby Shuttleworth. A disappointing set of circumstances aligned in the Revolution’s final regular season to give Cropper a chance to start and the former U.S. U-20 International made the most of it, keeping a shutout behind some impressive saves in helping the Revolution to a 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact.

“It’s something that I’ve been asking [head coach] Jay [Heaps] and [goalkeepers coach] Remi [Roy] for since the first day I got here, so it was kind of my want and I accomplished what I wanted and that was keeping a clean sheet,” said Cropper.

Cropper made a few appearances in the game day 18 for the Revolution, but had never seen any first team minutes. Knighton was suspended for the final match after picking up a red card last week, while with the Revolution having little to play for in their final regular season match having been all, but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, it made sense to give the younger ‘keeper a start over veteran Shuttleworth who had lost the starting role earlier in the season.

“He’s young and he hasn’t played in a couple months in terms of games, but he’s been training really well,” said Heaps. “[I was] excited to give him kind of his first taste of MLS and a big stage like it was tonight, a lot of fans I thought he did a good job. The first half was a little bit feeling it all out; feeling when he should come, when he shouldn’t come, but the second half he was a completely different player, he found himself. I was happy that we were able to do that. That’s why you play a guy like that in this moment, to get him that kind of experience.”

Cropper, who was given the start after Knighton was red carded in the team’s last game and with the team having been all but eliminated from the postseason, had a relatively quiet first half, but was called on to make two difficult saves in the second half.

“[His performance] was good,” said defender Jose Goncalves. “He was excellent. His first game, it’s not easy, but I think he did well. He was calm and that’s good for him, good for the future.”

Less than three minutes into the second half an Impact corner kick was deflected out to David Choiniere at the top of the box. Choiniere blasted a shot through a crowded box on frame that Cropper managed to push out without much time to react.

“It felt really good actually,” said Cropper of the save. “A lot of what I had to do in the first half was all with my feet, trying to just kind of just stay mentally tuned in. It was hard because there was not a lot to do, but that first shot came in and I kind of just in my head went into the second half going ‘I’m going to have to make a save here sooner or later’ and I just pushed it away and that got me going, that got the team going and it was good.”

Nine minutes later Cropper made another big save to keep the shutout. This time Danny Toia found space on the right flank and sent a cross in to Anthony Hamel-Jackson, who volleyed a shot on frame. His effort lacked power, but was well placed to the lower corner and forced Cropper to make a diving save to push it wide.

“He was great,” said defender Andrew Farrell. “He made the two big saves that were probably going to be in the goal. He made good distribution and everything was great. He was vocal.”

Cropper’s debut was made even sweeter coming in front of the largest announced Revolution home crowd of the season: 39,587.

“It was absolutely brilliant,” said Cropper. “The support was good throughout the entire game. Going into it we kind of knew that there were going to be 25-30,000+ and it makes it a little bit easier going in and playing in front of a bigger crowd than a smaller crowd, it gets the adrenaline pumping, so it felt really good.”

Now Cropper’s performance leaves the Revolution with some difficult offseason decisions to make at his position. With both Minnesota and Atlanta—Cropper’s home town—joining the league next season, the Revolution will have to decide which ‘keepers to expose in the upcoming expansion draft. Neither Knighton nor Shuttleworth were able to lockdown the starting role during the season leaving an opening for Cropper, who had spent his entire professional career in England prior to joining the Revolution, to potentially step in next season.

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