Bobby Shuttleworth missed only a total 222 minutes last season in goal for Minnesota United. But in 2018, he’s already been out for more than double that.

Last year’s starter, after taking over the job in the second game of the season after an injury to John Alvbage, began this season on the bench behind newcomer Matt Lampson. Shuttleworth just made his season debut a week ago in the 3-1 loss at Seattle before playing again Saturday against Houston at TCF Bank Stadium.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult,” Shuttleworth said of dropping down the goalkeeper depth chart. “Any professional player will tell you that they want to play in every game no matter what. … It’s a position that I’ve been in before, and you’ve just got to keep yourself ready to go and come to training every day and be professional and work hard. And I think that’s something that I really try to pride myself on.”

While Shuttleworth has been in the league since 2009, his playing time was cut last season with the New England Revolution, his former club. He revived his career last season with the Loons, often being a bright spot in a pretty abysmal defensive season, but injuries held him back entering this season. Shuttleworth said the last two weeks of preseason he dealt with a hamstring issue as well as vertigo, which was something he also dealt with in 2014.

Coach Adrian Heath had said those problems kept Shuttleworth from retaining his job. But after a recent four-game losing skid, Heath decided it was time for a change.

“I had a good feeling,” Heath said of making the switch in net. “Bobby has been waiting very, very patiently for his opportunity. He did great for us last year, and I just felt that with the goals we were conceding, sometimes you have to change things. And it’s not necessarily people who are involved, but you have to do something, and I felt it was the right time to make that change.”

His first game back wasn’t quite a rousing success with a 3-1 loss thanks to some defensive errors, but Shuttleworth said he personally felt good.

A new partnership

New playmaker Darwin Quintero and forward Christian Ramirez combined for a goal for the first time last week, and that budding partnership seems to have both players excited.

“I feel I understand where he is comfortable on the ball,” Ramirez said. “I know enough about him as a person and seen him play for many years that I understand his strengths.”

Quintero said Ramirez is a very intelligent player.

“We’re doing well in a really short time. We’re getting used to each other,” Quintero said through a Spanish translator.