With MLS Cup only a week or so away, and after taking a break from the soccer blogging game for a bit to reflect on the year, it's time to see if we can put a bow on the 2012 season in New England.
There is WAY too much material to cover in just one mega column, so starting here we are going to break it down position by position, as well as a couple of pieces on the coaching staff and front office.
Like any good soccer club, we're going to build this review from the back up to the front, so let's start between the sticks, at the goalkeeper position.
Last week, Revolution beat writer Kyle McCarthy indicated that signs pointed to Matt Reis returning to GIllette Stadium, and while it was a positive bit of news for Revs fans, it meant (at least for the first time in recent memory) there could be somewhat of a keeper competition in camp.
Revolution back-up goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth performed admirably in the final month of the season, finishing the year with two clean sheets that put the finishing touches on a season that saw the Revs win four more games than 2011.
The stats between the two aren't enough, really, to draw any type of conclusion, considering Reis played nearly FOUR TIMES as many minutes as Shuttleworth did. While Shuttleworth did have a Goals Against Average that was half of Reis' (0.71 to 1.44), Reis played far more matches which skews the numbers considerably.
Shuttleworth showed strong command of his back line, as well as a particularly impressive prowess in the air. With Revolution head coach Jay Heaps still tweaking his roster, it will be interesting to see how he handles the goalkeeper situation in the early stages of camp and into 2013.
What Would the Couch Captain Do?
In baseball, it's called a "platoon", so we'll use that terminology going forward. Basically, it all comes down to a few factors, such as team schedule, who has the hot hand, as well as health. With Matt Reis in his late thirties, there will presumably be ample opportunity for Shuttleworth to fill in much like he did in 2012 when Reis picked up a knock or two.
For me, the biggest difference in 2013 would be that Shuttleworth would play at times even when Reis is healthy. Three matches in a week (one of those Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday stretches)? Shuttleworth is seeing one, maybe two of those matches if I'm the manager. Reis is still one of the best goalkeepers in the league when he is healthy, and with a more than capable back up, KEEPING him healthy should be priority one.
I'm mot saying I would baby Matt Reis and his health in any way whatsoever, because quite frankly he's coming off one of his most productive and healthy seasons. What I AM saying is that you need to be mindful of your veteran players and their health in what is a very long campaign, and given the fact that you're blessed to have what appears to be a capable backup, keeping this particular veteran *should* be a little easier.
So, what do you think? Who is your opening day starter next season? Do you like the "platoon" idea? Or would you keep things the way they are and keep Reis as the starter and have Bobby back him up like he has been doing?
Join the debate in the comment section below and let us know what you think!