It's still too early for Revolution coach Jay Heaps to say who will start in net for Sunday's match against the Philadelphia Union at Gillette Stadium. He wants to gauge team training for the remainder of the week before making a decision on either Matt Reis or Bobby Shuttleworth.
"We're early in the week," explained Heaps at practice on Wednesday. "We're preparing [for Philadelphia] day by day. I have an idea of what we're going to do but at this time it's early in the week until I see how the team trains."
Reis entered the conversation for starting minutes after a successful performance last weekend against Chicago in which he made three saves and preserved the Revolution's first shutout since July 20. Though it was Reis' first league appearance since March 23, he rarely missed a beat and commanded his back line well.
Shuttleworth had made 21 consecutive starts before last Saturday's game. A back-up to Reis in previous seasons, Shuttleworth has accumulated the league's second-best GAA (1.10), the most shutouts (9), and a solid 69% save percentage this year.
Shuttleworth has shown that he's quality even though he allowed four goals in his last three games. That statistic, combined with the contributions of Reis at practice, prompted Heaps to bench Shuttleworth last week.
"A lot of it is feel," added Heaps. "You're sensing guys are fighting every day. You have to reward that. Ninety percent of what we do is here on the practice field. And that to me really matters."
"We like competition. We like competition for our 18, for the 11. Guys might be frustrated to be taken out. But that's the motivation to come here on the next day of training to show you can get back in there."
It's a very good thing that the Revolution have two capable goalkeepers on their roster. But whoever earns the start on Sunday will need to be close to perfect. The Revolution are 1-6-1 when they allow the first goal. And given that the Revolution have only beaten Philadelphia once in four years, not conceding the first goal will be especially crucial.
Philadelphia are fourth in the Eastern Conference though they've been relatively inconsistent. They've only won back to back games twice this season and are just five points ahead of the Revolution, who have a game in hand. So with ten games left, the Union could be the team for the Revolution to leap frog.
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