Goalkeeper Cody Cropper growing into role as Revolution starter
FOXBORO — A dozen games into his first real Major League Soccer season, Revolution keeper Cody Cropper is enjoying a certain comfort zone.
“On a personal level, it’s been great. I made the decision to come to MLS with the intention of playing in games, so obviously it’s falling into place,” Cropper said. “I’ve really just been trying to fit in and enjoy myself.”
The 24-year-old American signed as a ‘discovery’ player last August, after four years playing in the top two levels of English football. He played little, but credits Fraser Forster — starter at Premiership side Southampton — and retired keeper Kevin Davis among those who aided his development.
“I think that a goalkeeper is really an individual position. You really have to develop habits and characteristics that you can take with you anywhere,” he said.
The 6-foot-4 Cropper has clean sheets in three of the Revs’ last four home games, including last week’s impressive 4-0 dismantling of an under-manned Real Salt Lake. Revs coach Jay Heaps called Cropper the team’s “No. 1 priority” when it began exploring a successor to Matt Reis, whose decade with the organization ended in 2013.
“We opened up the position late last year to an almost ‘fight for the spot’ type of competition, and Cody kind of ran with it,” Heaps said. “I think we’re talking about a talent. He has the talent to make the great save.”
Heaps stressed, however, that the young keeper can’t let upside and development take precedent over the Revs’ aspirations about winning now.
“We want to continue to develop with Cody and we know his aspirations are with the national team,” Heaps said, “but to get there, he needs to be with a club.”
Cropper & Co. have their next challenge at 2:30 p.m. today when they host Columbus (6-5-1), which beat the Revs, 2-0, in Ohio on May 6.
“They have a very deliberate style, and once they get a lead they’re tough to come back against,” said Heaps, whose team is six points behind the Crew at 3-4-4, “but, at home, for me, it’s critical that we make this a tough place for opposing teams to come in and play. At the same time, we want to open ourselves up on the attack. So, it’s important that you find the right time to balance that out. The past week, there were some great areas that we want to build on and other areas where you might want to reassess and get better and correct some little things.”