Revolution reserve goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth had ample notice going into last Sunday’s match at Houston that he would be getting the start. The reason why was set in stone this week, as the Revolution’s longtime starter Matt Reis had season-ending ankle surgery with two games remaining.
Reis, who missed the first third of the season while recovering from offseason surgeries on his shoulder and knee, this time had cartilage smoothed and a bone spur removed from the ankle. Shuttleworth, 23, said having several days to think about the recent start didn’t alter his outlook in a game that ended in a 2-1 victory over the Texas club.
He will be in goal again Saturday night (8 p.m., Gillette Stadium) when the Revolution host the Kansas City Wizards, who are in need of two victories in their final two matches combined with two losses by Colorado to get into the playoffs.
“Being a young goalkeeper in the league, the biggest thing I need right now is experience,’’ said Shuttleworth, who has a 2-2 record and a 1.98 goals-against average. “Anytime I can play in a game, I’m extremely excited because that’s what I need. I’ve gotten a couple of league games right now, a U.S. Open Cup game, a Super Liga game -- so I’ve gotten a little bit of experience and I’m just looking forward to these last two games and hoping to do well.’’
Shuttleworth, who grew up in New York State and finished his collegiate career at Buffalo State after starting at Loyola College in Baltimore, said he feels blessed to get the opportunity to be playing but has been very grateful to the guidance that Reis, who finished the season 4-7-3 with a 1.79 GAA, has provided.
“I’m still relatively young for a goalkeeper,’’ he said. “I’m only 23, and a lot of goalkeepers in this league are in their mid-30s. I think the big thing for me right now is to be patient and not be frustrated that I’m not getting the chance to play week in and week out. I’m getting few games now. But the reality is that I still need to learn a lot. Matty’s been at this for a while."
Reis, 35, has always possessed a maturity and confidence that would make him a natural mentor without the insecurities that a younger player was waiting in the wings.
“Obviously, this is only my second year,’’ said Shuttleworth. “The great thing about Matty is that he’s really taken the time to help me out and point out things in my game that he can help me with. He’s been one of the best goalkeepers in the league for the last 10 years, so for him to take his time and help me out says a lot about him."
“But of course I want to play," Shuttleworth added, "and I’m here to learn, so if it comes to that point in time for me that I’m ready to step in, I’ll be here to do whatever I need to do.’’
As he tries steps into the limelight, Shuttleworth said his main task is to control as much of the circumstances as he possibly can, not letting the pace of the game get out of his team’s control.
“I try to manage the game and not rushing anything,’’ he said. “Take my time on goal kicks, and try to be vocal and organize and prevent as much coming our way as possible. I think with more experience I’ll be able to pick up little tricks and try to manage the game even better than I’m doing now.’’
Lauded for a point-blank injury-time save against Dominic Oduro to end the first half against Houston and help pave the way for the victory, Shuttleworth said such plays reinforce his self confidence.
“I played college soccer but obviously the level here is much higher and the speed of play is much higher,’’ he said. “I train every day with these guys, but obviously you need game experience. Goalkeeper is one of the positions where it’s about reading the game and being in different situations and having different experiences and then repeating what works.’’
Saturday night’s game is the Revs' final home game of the season. They finish the season Thursday night in New York against the Red Bulls. Gambian internationals Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally are back from international duty and available for selection Saturday. Pat Phelan and Cory Gibbs are suspended for yellow-card accumulations. Marko Perovic (left hamstring strain) is considered probable for the game.