FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the better part of five seasons, New England Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth remained patient, kept his mouth shut and went about his job as the backup to club legend Matt Reis.
His first year, Shuttleworth never even saw the pitch, working as the third-string option before making 20 appearances over the next three seasons. In 2013, he was able to step up in a big way when Reis went down with an injury, providing Shuttleworth with the opportunity to prove himself, which he did by posting nine shutouts in 22 starts.
It was those years and that time spent learning behind Reis (now a coach with the LA Galaxy), that prepared Shuttleworth for the Revs' No. 1 role – something he told hold of last season and looks unlikely to relinquish any time soon.
“If you look at it, I think it happens with a lot of goaltenders in this league,” Shuttleworth told MLSsoccer.com. “You learn for the first couple of years. I was obviously fortunate enough to learn from [goalkeepers coach] Remi [Roy] and Matt and pick up a lot of things from them. For me, it was a struggle, definitely, and it was a long process for me to develop.”
A year after starting 32 of the club’s 34 regular-season games and all five of their postseason matches en route to winning the Eastern Conference Championship, Shuttleworth continues to haul himself into the conversation about the league's best goalkeepers.
Those formative seasons learning as a backup shaped the 27-year-old’s attitude as a starter who now only sees one game in front of him at all times: the next one.
“It took me a while to get where I’m at,” said Shuttleworth. “I’m trying to approach each week where I’m just focusing on that one game and trying to put my best effort in for the team for that specific game. I’m not looking forward to anything past that game. I think that’s something that’s worked for me so far, so I’ll continue to just try and build on that.”
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Through five games this season, Shuttleworth has two shutouts and a steadily-dropping 1.20 goals-against average, earning an MLS Team of the Week nod in Week 2 and two Save of the Week nominations thus far.
His 31 career wins and 23 shutouts both rank second in club history. Most importantly to him, they signal the most important aspect of his job.
“I don’t really look into that kind of stuff,” said Shuttleworth of accolades, awards and comparisons to the best in the MLS. “For me, I’m based on how the team does. Ultimately we’re in this together and we’re all looking to achieve the same goal. The most important thing is three points on the weekend, and hopefully we can continue to build on the last couple of weeks.”