After Bobby Shuttleworth dived to his right and punched away Mauro Diaz’s penalty kick, center backs Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo were the first to run up and congratulate him.
What they said in that moment, though, wasn’t exactly memorable.
“Just screaming, like guys do,” Shuttleworth said. “Scream into your face and not pay attention.”
Boxall only had a bit better recall: “I don’t know, probably a couple words starting with F and maybe that I loved him.”
Shuttleworth’s second consecutive match with a penalty save catapulted Minnesota United into its first-ever win streak. The Loons (9-15-5, ninth in the West) tallied their second consecutive three points on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, beating last season’s Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup champions FC Dallas 4-1 in front of an announced 22,055.
Shuttleworth’s save against Montreal a week ago kept United from going down 2-0 within the first 15 minutes. This one kept Dallas from equalizing with about 20 minutes to play.
Dallas forward Tesho Akindele scored in the 14th minute. United forward Christian Ramirez scored the tying goal 10 minutes later, though, and then set up best friend winger Miguel Ibarra for a go-ahead goal in the 35th.
Ibarra, who just regained his spot in the starting lineup against Montreal after a five-match absence, said Shuttleworth was a part of his turnaround.
“He’s always on you. To me, he’s a leader. He has experience, and he just tries to push you and push you and push you,” Ibarra said. “He’s one of the players that I had a really good talk with also [last week], a really long one, and he got into me. And I mean, everything he said was on point. So ever since that, we talked today, he said, ‘You’re just completely, you’re playing free. You’re playing happy now.’ So I’m just happy that we have him.”
A minute after Shuttleworth’s penalty save, midfielder Ethan Finlay used that momentum on the other end of the pitch, building on United’s lead again with a far-post goal. Matters only worsened for Dallas after that, as Akindele left the match with a red card after a reckless collision with Shuttleworth in the 81st minute.
United forward Abu Danladi delivered the final blow in the 89th minute, scoring on a one-on-one breakaway.
In a season with an almost ever-rotating lineup, Shuttleworth has been the most consistent presence since he won the starting job three matches into the inaugural season, staying in a match even despite a broken nose once.
Off the pitch, he’s a “character,” according to coach Adrian Heath. Boxall said that’s “one way to put it” for the loudest guy in the locker room.
“Every day, breaking the ice and grilling all the youngsters whenever they come in wearing some inappropriate clothing or have made questionable decisions,” Boxall said of Shuttleworth. “It’s great to have that sort of guy on the team.”
And for Shuttleworth, this team and this season has meant a lot to him.
“Last year was a very up and down year for me, on the field and personally, I had a lot of stuff going on,” Shuttleworth said of inconsistent playing time with former team New England and also dealing with his mother’s cancer before she passed away in December. “So it’s good for me this year to come in here, and the coaching staff has a lot of faith in me, put a lot of confidence in me. It’s been, honestly, one of the more enjoyable seasons in my entire career even though we struggled.”