Backup 'Keepers Impress Again vs Man Utd
Since day one, Philadelphia Union’s technical staff has reveled in the fact that the club featured three solid goalkeepers in Chris Seitz, Brad Knighton and rookie Brian Perk.
They still do.
Seitz has played very well in net while starting all 14 Major League Soccer games for the expansion Union this season.
Over the last week, Knighton and Perk have received some much-needed playing time in exhibitions against Celtic F.C. and Manchester United.
Knighton and Perk turned in a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory over Celtic F.C. a week ago, and the duo performed admirably once again in a 1-0 loss to the Red Devils before a crowd of 44,213 Wednesday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Only Gabriel Obertan’s goal from close range, which eluded Perk in the 76th minute, spoiled another combined shutout.
But these young goalkeepers continue to improve, and that’s obvious from their recent play.
“This game was a great opportunity to get Brad and Brian playing time,” said Coach John Hackworth. “That being said, Chris Seitz is our starter and he has played really well during our latest stretch of games. We really believe we have three very talented goalkeepers. If there comes a time when we need to put a backup in, we know we're in great shape.”
The 25-year-old Knighton is used to waiting patiently for his chance to play. He did that during his last stint with the New England Revolution.
Now, he’s doing that once again with the Union.
“I’ve just got to keep pushing hard and doing things so Peter (Nowak) takes notice,” Knighton said. “I’m going to keep working hard every day.”
The hard work paid off by getting some coveted playing time against the Red Devils, arguably the most recognizable soccer club in the world.
“It was great and every player’s dream,” Knighton said. “To play against Manchester United, you know to have to savor every moment and make the most of it. This was one of those days that you train for. You go in there with confidence, and that’s why they brought me over here. You wait for your time and to have it against Manchester United was incredible.”
Perk celebrated his 21st birthday by playing against the Red Devils. Not a bad way to spend his special day.
Sure, he allowed the lone goal, but that won’t diminish the experience.
Perk knew when he was drafted by the Union from UCLA that playing time might be scarce as a rookie.
“I feel like I’m doing well,” said Perk, who led the Pac-10 in goals against average (0.87) and recorded four shutouts and 53 saves last year. “All I can keep doing is show the (technical staff) what I can do and wait for my turn. I know I can handle it here.”
In the long run, this game experience will help the entire club.
“I think friendlies like this one will pay off as the season progresses,” said defender Danny Califf. “Brad and Brian haven’t played a whole lot, so this will help, for sure. I think it will benefit everyone. You can’t replace game experience. This is something these players can draw on later in the season.”