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Where Does Bobby Shuttleworth Rank Among the Elite Goalkeepers in MLS?

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Shuttleworth has commanded his box with poise this season. But where does he rank among the league's best? We make the case for Bobby--and reveal our list of the top five MLS goalkeepers.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Despite playing behind an overly-aggressive pair of center backs, Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth has put together a clinical start to the 2015 season. The one-time backup to club legend Matt Reis has evolved into one of the more consistent goalkeepers in MLS, constantly denying his opposition with flawless footwork, steady hands and near -perfect execution in one-on-one situations.

By analyzing five critical saves, we hope to answer the question Revolution fans have considered since the club's 2014 playoff run: where does Shuttleworth rank among the elite goalkeepers in Major league Soccer?

The Evidence

Save: Shuttleworth denies David Villa with his low hand

As Villa takes a deep touch into the box, Shuttleworth rises to his toes and carefully shuffles to his left. Knowing Villa will likely strike low, Bobby keeps his arms down and tucked to his side. As soon as Villa releases his shot, Shuttleworth springs off his front foot, extends to his right and pushes the attempt wide. A lighter touch--and a slower reaction--would have redirected the shot into the back of the net. Instead, Bobby forcefully pushes the shot wide, keeping the match level in the first frame.

Save: Shuttleworth stuns Dillon Powers one-on-one

After receiving a perfectly-weighted through ball, Powers enters the box with pace. Bobby immediately sells out and leaves his line, taking a flat angle toward the penalty spot. His immediate reaction catches Powers off guard, forcing the Rapids' midfielder to deliver a rushed, off-balance shot. With exceptional poise, Bobby reacts by taking a strong touch over the crossbar and into safety, denying a golden goal-scoring opportunity.

Save: Shuttleworth fends off a strong David Villa volley

Villa, the culprit once again, opens for a cross in the middle of the box and stings a well-placed volley on frame. Though Bobby's save initially looks relatively straightforward, his work before the shot makes this stop highlight-worthy. Mix Diskerud receives a through ball into the box, ushering Shuttleworth onto the near post. The ensuing cross forces Bobby to shuffle across the goalmouth, follow the trajectory of the ball and set for a shot. He executes to perfection, planting himself in perfect position to parry Villa's shot over the crossbar with a steady top hand.

Save: Shuttleworth sends Marcelo Sarvas' shot over the crossbar

A lofting cross onto Sarvas' head, which lands just outside the six-yard box, must have looked tantalizing for Shuttleworth, though the goalkeeper makes a key decision: he stays home. With Andrew Farrell defending in front, Shuttleworth sets for an impending header. By doing so, he puts himself in a position to make a routine save. Sarvas snaps the header and Bobby reacts, safely parrying the shot over the crossbar with relative ease.

Save: Shuttleworth parries a Chris Wondolowski strike into safety

After a defensive breakdown, Wondolowski receives a diagonal pass and takes a touch toward the center of the pitch. With space, he rips a shot toward Shuttleworth. Bobby fends off heavy traffic in front of goal and, with a pair of strong hands, pushes the shot out of danger. While Wondolowski's strike never really had a chance to find the back of the net, Bobby's ability to read the shot with limited vision and refrain from spilling a sloppy rebound makes this save worthy of a second look.

The Answer

Without question, Bobby enters week six in top form. In his past three matches, the veteran goalkeeper has conceded just once, pitching a pair of shutouts en route to a week 5 Save of the Week nomination (his second of the season). Shuttleworth also earned Team of the Week honors in week two, following a 0-2 loss to 1-95 rival NYCFC.

But even more than his individual saves--and his recent run of shutouts--Bobby's consistency has cultivated his rise to stardom. Dating back to the 2014 playoffs, when Shuttleworth first entered the "elite" conversation, the goalkeeper has refrained from surrendering a soft or errant goal. In fact, Shuttleworth's last questionable goal occurred way back on October 4, 2014, when he took an awkward angle on a deep Ethan Finley run. The Revs won the match, 2-1.

In 2015, all six conceded goals have resulted from a defensive collapse or poor challenge. Clint Dempsey converts a flawless penalty. Unmarked Obafemi Martins scores a well-placed header. Clint Dempsey finishes a two-on-none. David Villa slices through the back line and finishes from close range. Patrick Mullins beats his defender and taps in a simple cross. Chris Wondolowski slots home a cool penalty.

By all accounts, Bobby has endured abuse in 2015. Yet the 'keeper has found a way to grow, mature and improve, even in the face of adverse circumstances. His positioning looks consistently on-point, his angles on one-on-ones have stunned opposing forwards and his outstanding handwork and footwork has made difficult saves look routine.

But where does he stand among the best of the best? Does his belong in the same conversation as Bill Hamid or Nick Rimando? Our staff weighs in and settles the debate: yes, Shuttleworth belongs in the conversation.

Top Five MLS Goalkeepers, according to The Bent Musket Staff:

Staff Member 1 2 3 4 5
Steve Bill Hamid (DCU) Nick Rimando (RSL) Luis Robles (NYRB) Bobby Shuttleworth (NE) Clint Irwin (COL)
Seth Hamid Rimando Robles David Ousted (VAN) Shuttleworth
Nick Hamid Rimando Sean Johnson (CHI) Robles Shuttleworth
Jake Hamid Rimando Tyler Deric (HOU) Shuttleworth Josh Saunders (NYCFC)
Jon Rimando Hamid Steve Clark (CLB) Robles Jaime Penedo (LA)
Consensus Hamid Rimando Robles Shuttleworth Draw