Shuttleworth repeatedly saves the day

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For all the talk about the firepower the Revolution brandished in Sunday’s 3-1 win, it took a stout performance from goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to keep the Crew from creeping back into the Conference Semifinal series.

Shuttleworth made six saves in Sunday’s contest, but Revolution coach Jay Heaps singled out one particular stop as the reason why the Revolution were able to keep their foot on the gas throughout the second half.

Shortly after Lee Nguyen grabbed the opening goal in the 43rd minute, the Crew attempted to regain some momentum going into the break when Justin Meram crossed it for an unmarked Jairo Arrieta right on the doorstep. But Shuttleworth was quick off his feet to dismantle the chance with a leaping save.

“I think in the first half, there were a couple through and Bobby was in great spots,” Heaps said. “But for me, the biggest save was the one right after we scored -- he made the save on the header right before half, because if it’s tied going into half, it’s a different story. I thought that save was the one that for me really stood out, it kept us afloat.”

Shuttleworth predictably downplayed his highlight-reel save on Arrieta, who let out a primal scream in frustration after watching the Revolution keeper boldly deny him. In Shuttleworth’s view, it was simply of case of reading the situation, then letting his instinct take over.

“I kind of got in between coming in (to play it) and wanting to stay, and I knew I wasn’t going to get there in time,” Shuttleworth said. “So I just decided to just try to stay, and make myself as big as possible, and at that point it’s just a reaction save, trying to push it away.”

While the stoppage time save on Arrieta was certainly his finest, Shuttleworth essentially put on a goalkeeping clinic during the first half, watching 11 shots approach his net and making a trio of saves to frustrate a hungry Columbus attack.

Needing at least three goals to stave off elimination, the Crew tested the sixth-year keeper with dangerous chances created by Arrieta, Tony Tchani and Hector Jimenez. And each time, Shuttleworth kept his cool, leaving the scoreboard unblemished going into halftime.

However, his remarkable showing almost came to a premature end near the hour mark. Ethan Finlay chased after a long ball into the box, where Shuttleworth raced off his line to pick it off. With his momentum carrying him into the path of Finlay, he was unable to avoid a collision with the Crew midfielder, whose shin caught Shuttleworth in the forehead.

While Shuttleworth was slow to get to his feet following the rough encounter, Finlay was red-carded for the offense. But the Revolution keeper told reporters after the match that he didn’t think there was anything malicious about the hit.

“I don’t think he meant to do it,” Shuttleworth said. “He came up to me after and was apologizing several times; he was just trying to go for the ball. I don’t think there was any intent there at all.”

It wasn’t an easy night by any stretch for Shuttleworth. Whether it was putting out fires in front of frame or taking a shin to his forehead, the Revolution’s unheralded hero showed that he wasn’t one to crack under pressure.

“I thought Bobby was excellent tonight,” Heaps said. “I think Bobby’s been great the last half of the season and makes huge saves for us.”