FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England will enter Saturday's vital clash against Philadelphia without starting goalkeeper Matt Reis between the sticks.
Reis will miss the match with a sore back and backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth will start in his place, Revolution coach Steve Nicol told MLSsoccer.com on Friday.
Reis did not train with the Revolution this week in an attempt to address lingering lower back pain, but it appears the complaint has not dissipated in time to face the Union. Shuttleworth has drawn more reps in Reis' absence and said he will use the additional work as the foundation for his performance against the Union.
“I knew he's had the back issue for a while now, so I figured I had to stay sharp and be ready to go,” Shuttleworth said. “I know it's been in and out, it's been bothering him and then it's been fine. I knew he had the problem, so I've just tried to stay extra sharp.”
It may have taken a few extra shots to prepare Shuttleworth for the task at hand. The second-year goalkeeper has made four appearances – including his first and only MLS start to date, a 3-0 defeat at Seattle on June 5 – in all competitions this season, but he hasn't featured in the first team since notching a 1-0 shutout against Pumas UNAM in SuperLiga play on July 14.
“It's just all about experience,” Nicol said. “He has all of the tools. He just lacks experience. Everybody has to gain it and that's what he's going to get.”
Nicol will likely have to make another change at the back with Kevin Alston still struggling with a left hamstring strain suffered in last Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Kansas City.
Alston's likely absence will create a selection poser or two for Nicol. Emmanuel Osei replaced Alston rearguard shortly before halftime in Kansas City, but the Revs aren't expected to persevere with the 3-5-2 formation used against the Wizards for this contest.
Osei, Chris Tierney and Seth Sinovic will likely vie for the two open berths at the back, while Tierney could also come into contention on the left side of midfield given the projected formation change.
Kheli Dube should provide another attacking option off the bench after he returned to the squad this week. Dube missed a month with a right MCL sprain, but he trained with his teammates after receiving a clean bill of health and could feature as a second-half substitute as he works his way toward match fitness.
While Dube may have to exhibit some patience as he seeks to return to the lineup, the Revs can harbor no such reticence against the Union, as they aim to climb back into the playoff picture by snapping a two-match losing streak.
“We need to win,” New England midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “Bottom line, we need to get three points [Saturday] night. We realize the games are getting fewer and fewer and we need to get points at home. The best way to respond after getting walloped on the road for two games is to come home, put on a performance, show that we're still in contention and show that we want to be one of those teams to be reckoned with.”