On Friday night, Evan Bush will take the field against New England Revolution, attempting to become the first Montreal Impact goalkeeper ever to keep three successive MLS clean-sheets. He’s shutout both last year’s MLS Cup finalists in his last two outings. Now he aims to “Blank The Revs” and make it three-on-the-bounce!
History could even be on his side. He once shut the Revs out three times in a row, with two of those games being played at tomorrow night’s venue. He has however been beaten 9 times in his last 4 outings v New England.
Donovan Ricketts is the only Impact goalkeeper to secure three successive shutouts, way back in 2012, but one of his trio was a Canadian Championship semi-final.
It will be the eighth time Evan has attempted to transform a double into a treble. The closest he’s come was in September 2015, when a 50th min David Accam goal for Chicago Fire, followed a couple of blanks against LA Galaxy and New England, Friday night’s opponents. Had Accam not been on target, the record would already be Bush’s. The next game against DC United was also a shut-out, so the Chicago striker actually spoiled Evan’s chances of 4 clean-sheets in a row.
It’s Troy Perkins who holds the record number of minutes unbeaten for an Impact ‘keeper. The former Portland man, went 315 mins unbeaten, all in MLS-play. After conceding to Luis Silva (DC United) five mins into first-half injury time, on 11 June 2014, the next time he was beaten was by Erick Torres (Chivas USA) in the 90+4th min at Stub Hub Center on 5 July 2014. Evan Bush needs a clean sheet on Friday, and to remain unbeaten in the first-half of the next match at Red Bulls Arena, to equal Perkins’ record.
Whether or not the former CONCACAF Golden Glove Award winner remains unbeaten that long, no-one who’s watched the Impact this season will deny Bush looks a ‘keeper transformed.
He always was incredibly agile and a great shot-stopper, but question marks remained over his ability to come off his line and take command of the box, particularly under aerial threat. His kicking needed some work too.
Bush has improved both areas, markedly, and has looked an all-round more confident presence between the sticks, as early as the season’s opener at Vancouver. He clearly enjoys working with new mentor and goalkeeping coach, Joel Bats, a former European Championship winner and World Cup semi-finalist.
As a pupil of Bats, Bush is in great company. For the past 17 seasons, Bats carried out a similar coaching role at Olympique Lyonnais in France. Two net-minders who benefitted at Lyon from the French international veteran’s tutelage, almost faced-off against each other in the 2016 European Championship Final; Hugo Lloris of France, and Portugal’s Anthony Lopes, who sat on the bench for the winners.
There’s probably no better place these days than Stade Saputo, for an MLS ‘keeper to learn his trade or improve his game.
Perhaps Friday night’s opposing coach has grounds for argument on that score, but if Evan turns in one of his tip-top performances and frustrates the Revs, you can rest-assured Brad Friedel will be first in line to congratulate the Impact number one on completing his hat-trick!