After a two-match lull, the New England Revolution’s stingy defense returned to form.
They’ll look for a similar performance Saturday night when they visit D.C. United, who remain plagued by the league’s worst offense but hope to be re-energized following the announcement of a new stadium.
New England (7-7-6) entered last weekend having lost two straight and giving up two goals in each, neither of which had happened in consecutive games all season. The Revolution bounced back for a 2-0 victory at Columbus last Saturday for their MLS-leading 11th shutout, setting a single-season club record.
The 20 goals they’ve allowed are tied for the league’s fewest, while D.C.’s nine scored are also the fewest.
Shuttleworth entered the season with five shutouts in 19 career MLS starts.
“I think it starts from the front and just falls back,” he said. “We’ve been able to get some good pressure from our forwards, and our midfielders have been in good spots. It makes it predictable for us in the back. We’re able to pick up key positions and communicate well.”
Goncalves’ game-winner was his first career MLS goal and came three days after the defender scored an own goal in a 2-1 loss at Colorado.
“I knew he was carrying this team tonight,” coach Jay Heaps said of Goncalves, the only player to be on the field for all 1,800 minutes of New England’s matches.
“He wanted to win this game more than anything. You could tell the way he defended, the way he played all night. To get the winner was a special thing for him.”
D.C. (2-14-4) owns the league’s worst record and could be headed for the worst in franchise history. The team’s fewest points were 28 after a 9-14-5 mark in 2002.
Perhaps Thursday’s news that an agreement had been reached between the club and city officials for a new $300 million soccer-only stadium - expected to open in 2016 - can help lift United from their beleaguered state.
They have played at the 52-year-old RFK Stadium since debuting as one of the league’s original teams in 1996.
“It’s going to drive our culture and our fans and our team to new heights,” coach Ben Olsen said. “There’s going to be a pep in everyone’s step in the locker room.”
Luis Silva’s goal in the 59th minute of a 4-1 loss at Chicago last Saturday was the club’s first in four games.
D.C. has won once in its last 18 league matches but is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings with New England, including a 3-1 U.S. Open Cup home victory June 26.
The Revolution’s last victory in the series came July 20, 2011, in D.C.