FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Revolution backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth says he is prepared to take over from starter Matt Reis ahead of Saturday night's clash with the New York Red Bulls.
Reis will miss the match after he picked up a red card during a scrum in the final moments of Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Houston. But Shuttleworth said he is more than ready to pick up the slack as he makes his first start since April 30 against the Red Bulls' high-octane attack.
“Matt and Remi [Roy, Revolution goalkeeper coach] talk about it all of the time,” Shuttleworth told MLSsoccer.com. “I have to be ready to play week in, week out. You never know what is going to happen. I have to stay focused during the game as well in case something happens to Matty. To me, it's not that big of a deal. I train hard week in and week out to get these opportunities.”
The third-year netminder hasn't had a lot of chances to impress on the field with Reis standing in his path to the first team. Shuttleworth has started three matches so far this season, but Revolution manager Steve Nicol said he believes his backup will take this opportunity to showcase his abilities.
“There are probably a lot of teams in the league that, if he'd been with them, he'd be playing right now,” Nicol said. “He's just been unfortunate that he's got Matt Reis in front of him. It's great for us, but Bobby's really had to be patient. He's going to get his chance to play on Saturday and I'm sure you'll see what he has to offer.”
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Forward Rajko Lekic is expected to join Shuttleworth in the starting 11 after he returned to the training field on Friday. Nicol said he planned to play the Danish striker if he did not experience a setback with his right toe fracture.
As far as Lekic is concerned, he can't wait to help his teammates claim a much-needed victory.
“It's frustrating to be out and seeing them be so unlucky with a goal scored against them in the 90th minute,” Lekic said of the team’s midweek draw against Houston. “It's really tough, but now I'm back and I hope that I can help the team [Saturday].”
Although Lekic could return and Chris Tierney should shake off a left foot sprain suffered during training on Friday morning, defender Ryan Cochrane will likely have to settle for a place on the bench after he departed in the second half on Wednesday night with concussion symptoms.
Cochrane took an impact test on Thursday and participated in non-contact drills on Friday, but Nicol said he probably would not play him against the Red Bulls unless a drastic set of circumstances forced him to do so.
Previous encounters against the Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium have usually not warranted such hasty measures. New England saw their 14-game unbeaten run against the Red Bulls snapped on Oct. 21, but it still maintain a 13-match unblemished run (10-0-3 since June 29, 2002) at home in the series.
In order to continue that torrid streak and pick up all three points, the Revs must continue their recent penchant for scoring first. But they have to avoid easing up once they seize the lead, according to midfielder Pat Phelan.
“I think we've done pretty well recently about getting the first goal, which has helped a lot,” Phelan said. “The problem is that we take our foot off the gas. We scored an early goal [against Houston], but we would have been lucky not to concede five or six if it wasn't for Matt [Reis].”