Buffalo isn’t what you’d call a footballing hot bed compared to other locales like North Jersey or the Inland Empire in Southern California….places that have yielded huge chunks of past and present USMNT pools. We, uh…..have not.
However, there are exceptions to all rules and Bobby Shuttleworth is ours – the 25 year old Nichols grad has been with the New England Revolution since 2009, serving as understudy for league legend Matt Reis. Bobby was kind enough to sit down between training and games to answer a few questions about his time in Foxboro, Buffalo and whether or not he’s hatching a dastardly plot to sabotage the Patriots.
ITM: To our knowledge, you’re the first Buffalo native to play in MLS. Is there a sense of pride that comes with being essentially the most high profile professional soccer player from Buffalo since the Pikuzinski brothers?
Bobby: I don’t know about high profile but I definitely take pride from where I come from and the soccer in Buffalo. My family had season tickets to the Blizzard games and we were big fans. I try to represent the soccer in the city as best I can.
ITM: Buffalo isn’t an overly soccer saturated town – how did you find and fall in love with the game?
Bobby: I started playing when I was about five years old, played travel until about thirteen, and then premier with then with Buffalo City until college. My mom saw that I enjoyed playing so she bought tickets to Blizzard games and occasionally Rhinos games as well. I just continued to play and hopefully can for a lot longer.
ITM: You came on board with New England in 2009 after impressing with Austin during a friendly against the Revs. Can you take us through the process of how that happened: coming in as a trialist for a lower division club to getting a contract offer from an MLS team?
Bobby: I never really played with Austin. I signed there strictly in order to play for the Revs and move away from the college game.
I trained with the Revs for about a week and they were looking for a third keeper so it worked out for me.
ITM: Steve Nicol stepped down from managing New England late last year – longtime Revs defender Jay Heaps stepped in and brought a new, some would say, more attacking philosophy. How do you compare and contrast the two managers and their approach to the game?
Bobby: I loved playing for Stevie my first three seasons. He really allowed for me to come along and showed a lot of trust in me which I will always be grateful for.
I played with Jay my first season so it’s definitely a different feel. I think there are some things that with Jay, having played for Stevie for so long, have remained the same. The environment around the locker room is pretty similar in terms of allowing the players to have a good time and keep things light when they need to be.
Soccer wise we are a much more possession orientated team.
ITM: Matt Reis has been one of the best and most consistent keepers in MLS for nearly a decade now. Serving as a backup to him seems to be a double edged sword – it’s unlikely he’ll lose form anytime soon but you’re learning from one of the best. What have you learned and picked up on in the time you’ve spent with him?
Bobby: I can’t say how easy and enjoyable it is to work with Matt. He has really tried to help me from day one, which isn’t something he has to do with younger guys.
Also I have learned alot from some of the other goalies we have had here, and our goalie coach Remi Roy
ITM: Your high school career at Nichols was very successful, winning multiple state titles, earning regional honors, etc. Your college career at UB & Loyola were also successful – out of curiosity to how the Buffalo area is scouted for national team prospects, were you ever contacted/scouted by youth national team coaches in your career before joining New England?
Bobby: I never was contacted or reached out to or anything like that. Buffalo, and Upstate New York in general doesn’t have the best rep, which is too bad because there are some fantastic players in the area.
ITM: Have you been keeping any tabs on FC Buffalo and the growth of soccer culture (new soccer bar on Hertel, recently formed American Outlaws chapter, etc…) in Western New York?
Bobby: I played for Buffalo City FC before coming to the Revs so I saw that developing a little. I do see how FC Buffalo is doing occasionally as I know some of the guys on the team and I’m always curious about the soccer scene in Buffalo.
ITM: A dedicated stadium for the Revolution has been at the top of many a New England fan’s wish list ever since the move to Gillette Stadium over a decade ago. Some rays of hope have formed recently with rumors of potential stadium sites being scouted in Somerville & Revere, MA. How important do you think a ground the Revs (and only the Revs) can call home is to the future of the team in Boston?
Bobby: With the way MLS has developed I think it’s absolutely vital. Soccer in Boston is big, and I saw that during the last World Cup. I think a soccer specific stadium will bring the Revs to a new level.
ITM: What player on the Revolution (besides Matt Reis) are you most impressed with and why?
Bobby: It’s hard not to be impressed with the majority of players at this level. We have some truly talented players who can really play. Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber are great players who have accomplished a lot of great things.
ITM: Level with us: how hard is it to resist putting spoiled milk in Tom Brady’s locker?
Bobby: Ha ha, it’s not easy being a Bills fan in Boston and especially in Gillette but you have to stick with your team.
Manny thanks to Bobby for his time. Follow him on twitter at @b_shuttle