Sounders FC will try to score some goals tonight against, well, somebody.
Sure, the Sounders know they’ll be taking the Qwest Field pitch at 7:30 against their unlikely nemesis: the New England Revolution.
But the Revs’ scrambled personnel situation provides an unknown element of goalkeeping possibilities that could hardly be more different: Matt Reis, a 12-year veteran, or Bobby Shuttleworth, who made his MLS debut last week.
“It doesn’t change how we go about our business very much,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “But certainly Matt Reis is an experienced goalkeeper. He hasn’t played in any games this year, so hopefully there will be a little bit of rust there. But on the same token, he’s a player I know very well, having coached him at UCLA and with the Galaxy, and he’s a quality keeper. But I know they have a lot of confidence in Shuttleworth, as well. I’m sure they’re confident whichever goalkeeper they play.”
Reis has been New England’s fixture in goal for the past seven seasons. However, he has been on the shelf through the Revolution’s first 11 games this season because of shoulder and knee surgeries. And he is listed as doubtful tonight.
In his absence, the Revs went with Preston Burpo, a former USL Sounder. However, Burpo suffered a gruesome right-leg fracture in a collision last week against New York, ending his season.
That brought the emergency call to Shuttleworth, who played at the University of Buffalo, spent last season as a Revs developmental player and was on loan to the Western Mass Pioneers of the USL second division. When pressed into service late in the first half last week, Shuttleworth made two saves and allowed one goal in 51 minutes and was credited with the win.
“Something we want to do is test keepers,” Schmid said. “ ... We’ve got to put more shots on goal, we’ve got to make keepers make saves and make plays. Our objective – no matter who’s in goal – is to make keepers make plays.”
Making opposing goalkeepers look good has been one of the frustrating themes of this Sounders season. Seattle has been shut out in five of its 11 games, has scored a total of two goals over its past five games, and has gone 266 minutes without a goal at home.
The Revolution (3-6-2) also has had its share of frustration this season, having gone seven matches without a win until breaking through last weekend against the short-handed Red Bulls.
However, the Revs have been strengthened by the recent return of midfielder Shalrie Joseph, who scored all three of his team’s goals against Seattle last season.
New England is the only MLS team Seattle has never beaten or tied.