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Doughnut time: New England Revolution keep first clean sheet

Cody Cropper makes a save
Apr 20, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper (1) makes a save on New York Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski (90) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper apparently owes his teammates doughnuts.

At least that’s how the ritual is supposed to go when the Revolution keep a clean sheet, which they did for the first time this season in Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls.

Cropper pitched in by making five saves.

“It’s a tradition [Matt] Reis started,” Cropper told reporters after the game, referencing his predecessor. “Teal Bunbury is already telling me to bring in 48 doughnuts.”

This was New England’s first clean sheet since last year’s season finale, a 1-0 victory against the Montreal Impact on Oct. 28.

The Revolution recorded seven clean sheets all last year.

On Saturday night, New England played probably its best two-way game of the season despite being outshot 13-9. Cropper’s best moment came in the 39th minute when he parried a point-blank volley from New York’s Marc Rzatkowski, who arrived in the box unmarked to meet a Vincent Bezecourt cross.

But New York’s best opportunity came in the 51st minute, when Cropper came out to clear a driven service. Possession fell to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who rounded the goalkeeper but had his shot at an almost wide-open net blocked by Michael Mancienne.

“Our goal in this game, believe it or not, was to keep a clean sheet,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said. “We’ve been leaking too many on quick attacks.”

“I don’t even know,” Cropper added. “It’s been a long time, for me personally, for this organization, since we’ve had one. It’s just a confidence builder. Huge going into next week.”

New England’s resolute defending paid off and the team’s attack finally managed to put some chances on frame. The team converted on its second of just two shots on goal in the 73rd minute, when Cristian Penilla slotted a shot past New York goalkeeper Luis Robles.

“We had constant belief. We just continued to pump each other up,” Cropper said. “Winning balls in midfield was huge for us. We knew if we came in and did that, we’d get chances.”

The result vaults New England past the Red Bulls and into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, just four points behind the Montreal Impact, which visit Gillette Stadium Wednesday night.

Cropper also said his team needs to recover and continue training ahead of Wednesday’s clash, though clearly the onus is on him to at least temporarily relax the team’s dietary restrictions once he brings in the precious doughnuts.

“Right now, any win for us is huge,” Cropper added. “We needed this win, at home, in front of our fans, versus a rival. It’s chilling. It gives us all goosebumps.”

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