FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With the New England Revolution out of the playoff hunt, manager Jay Heaps is showing no reservations towards experimentation and on Thursday, he continued to look at the goalkeeper position, confirming Bobby Shuttleworth will start his second straight match when the Revolution visit Houston on Saturday night (8:30 pm ET, streamed LIVE online).
Heaps indicated in his post-game press conference after last weekend's 1-1 draw with New York that he wanted to play Shuttleworth in a string of matches before the season concluded. Those plans did not change this week, according to Heaps.
“There's no set number of games we want to get Bobby, other than I wanted to get him a game at home and a game or two on the road,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We want him to have that opportunity. We also want to see Bobby in a progression of games knowing that he is going to start. So he will start on Saturday. That was as far out as I thought that through, in terms of wanting to say [he is] going to get ten games or five games.”
The decision to hand Shuttleworth a couple of consecutive appearances will allow the Revs to assess his ability to lead the team through the week and permit the regular backup to establish some rhythm as the first choice.
By giving Shuttleworth a chance to remain in the team to make his fourth start of the campaign, the Revs can acquire more information as they start to ponder their goalkeeping situation for next season, Heaps said.
“We know what Bobby has,” Heaps said. “We want to see where he [is in terms of his health], he's been out with an injury [left knee sprain]. We know what Matt can do. We've seen a lot of Matt. Now we want to see where Bobby is and where our goalkeeper situation is for this year and heading into next year.”
Feilhaber prepares for his turn
Out-of-favor midfielder Benny Feilhaber hopes to join Shuttleworth in the first-team setup for the trip to BBVA Compass Stadium. Feilhaber has made just two starts in the Revs' past seven matches after falling behind Ryan Guy and Clyde Simms in the central midfield pecking order.
“I'm used to it,” Feilhaber said. “I know it happens in soccer. There are many things that go into what Jay decides. Obviously, it's been a tough season. I haven't had my best season. Our team hasn't had as good of a season as we could have had or thought we would have at the beginning of the year.”
Feilhaber may receive the chance to stake his claim for regular starting duty against the Dynamo with Guy away on international duty with Guam and Simms battling right calf tightness. If Feilhaber does feature from the outset, then he said he plans to take his chance to show Heaps that he should play every week.
“It's a little bit of trial and error now, trying new things and seeing what fits,” Feilhaber said. “I've kind of been pushed to the bench. Obviously, I mean I'm not happy with it. No one is ever happy going to the bench, not playing or whatever it is. I want to be back in the starting lineup. I'll think I'll have a chance this weekend. I have to prove that I belong to be there. Everyone is back to square one. Everyone has to prove themselves and that includes myself.”
Tierney's status for remainder of the season uncertain
Chris Tierney may not have the chance to bolster his claims for a regular berth for next season after picking up a left knee sprain prior to the 2-1 defeat at D.C. United on Sept. 15. He has missed the past two games and will sit a third straight game this weekend, according to Heaps.
The extent of the knock may place Tierney on the growing list of players – a group that includes Flo Lechner (right MCL sprain), Lee Nguyen (right shoulder surgery) and Saër Sène (left ACL surgery) – already done for the season.
“It's just a knee sprain that is going to take some time to heal,” Tierney said. “My goal is to be back at some point, but that's optimistic at this point. We'll see. There's not a lot I can do now. I'm just rehabbing and trying to get back fit as soon as possible.”