New England Soccer Today

Keeping it Clean

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

A lot has gone right for the New England Revolution over the past three months, but one thing the club has struggled with recently is keeping a clean sheet. Until Saturday night, the Revolution had failed to record a shutout since a 3-0 win at Toronto FC on August 30th, leaving some questions about the defense going into the postseason.

Toronto again proved the cure to the Revolution’s shutout woes as New England finished off the regular season with a 1-0 win for their 17th victory of the season.

“[The clean sheet] was part of what we really wanted to do,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “It’s so important going into the playoffs to not concede home goals because of, obviously, the weighted away goals. We really wanted to shore that up and I thought our defense was really good. I think Bobby [Shuttleworth] had one or two good saves, but no one was behind us and that was key number one and I thought that was good.”

Shuttleworth finished the match with four saves in picking up his eighth shutout of the season. In addition to his saves, Shuttleworth was also called on to make a key punch deep into second half stoppage time when Toronto FC was awarded a corner kick and put all eleven men into the box, including goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who positioned himself right in front of the Revolution ‘keeper.

“It’s good to be able to come home and be able to get our organization down and get our lines, keep the zero and get a win,” said Shuttleworth.

Defender A.J. Soares, who was named the Revolution Defender of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year before the game, helped lead the backline with three tackles, four clearances, a blocked shot and an interception on the night.

“It’s something we focused on all week,” said Soares. “We know in the playoffs if you give up a goal at home it is trouble with that road goal rule, but I was happy with it. I thought the whole group, not just the back four or five, defended. I think you’ve got to play like that in the playoffs. You’re coming up against teams that are as good as you, so you need all eleven guys defending and doing the work on both sides and we did it today.”

Left back Chris Tierney, who was one of the players who contributed on both sides of the ball by setting up Lee Nguyen’s game winning goal also played a key role in the shutout with two tackles, three clearances and an interception. But, despite the shutout, Tierney still recognized the team’s need to improve heading into the postseason.

“It’s very important [to get the shutout],” said Tierney. “Our goal coming into the game was to be tight and not concede. There were a couple of dicey moments there, but overall I think we defended pretty well. Still have to improve going into the playoffs, so we’ll like to get a good week of training in and get ready to go next week.”

And Nguyen, named the team’s MVP before the match, and scorer of the game-winner, his 18th goal of the year, recognized the importance of the clean sheet, but also in getting a positive result, despite the match mattering little in the standings, in front of the 32,766 in attendance, the club’s largest home crowd of the season.

“We wanted to be solid in the back, keep a clean sheet,” said Nguyen. “Credit to the guys in the backline and Bobby as well, they did a great job. At the same time we wanted to make it exciting for the fans who came out and get three points, going into the playoffs on a strong note.”

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