Knighton Thriving as Starter in Net
Another home game, another clean sheet for goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
Two weeks after an impressive 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, Knighton helped the Union earn a 3-0 win over Chivas USA Saturday at PPL Park.
Knighton stopped both Chivas shots on goal. He also made several other heads-up plays on loose balls in and around the area.
The result was consecutive home shutouts.
“It’s exciting to be a part of today,” Knighton said. “The second half we really took it to them. You could tell they were getting really frustrated with how we were playing. Especially with the fans standing behind us every single second.
“As you could see, I had maybe only two shots on me the whole game, so it’s nice having that in front of us. It makes my job a whole lot easier and puts a lot less pressure on the team as a whole. When I got my first start after the Dallas game we had played well defensively the last three or four games before that. It’s just been a tumbling effect now. A lot of us are taking that to heart. We were wearing our heart on our sleeves. We are expecting zero every single game.”
Knighton didn’t know what to expect following the Union’s loss at FC Dallas on Aug. 8. He got the start in place of an ill Chris Seitz and then received a red card following a bobbled ball in the box. David Ferreira equalized on the ensuing kick, and Knighton’s night was over.
With Seitz remaining the starter in league play, Knighton then played exceptionally well in a 1-0 win over Chivas de Guadalajara on Sept. 1, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“That August date is in my memory bank,” Knighton joked before turning serious. “Honestly, it was a matter of waiting for my turn and taking advantage of the opportunity. I couldn’t do what I’ve been doing without the guys in front of me. They have been fantastic. We have pulled together as a club and we’re playing well. Coming back home after San Jose and getting another shutout is very nice. It couldn’t be done without a whole team effort.”
Following the match, Team Manager Peter Nowak was asked if Knighton will be the No. 1 goalkeeper next season.
“It is too early to say,” Nowak said. “We have five games left to play. It is good for the confidence of the group and I think except for the one shot today, he didn’t have too much. He had a couple of good reactions in the first half when he anticipated the long balls and cleaned it up for our defenders. I think right now he has all of the confidence to be number one and he will stay in goal as well, but like I said, I don’t have a crystal ball for what’s going to happen in November, December. We will see how everything goes and I think that we feel very comfortable with Brad.”
The club has the utmost confidence in both Knighton and Seitz.
No matter which player lines up in front of the net, the club will do their best to protect him.
“I think as a club, we have improved, and we showed that against Chicago and again against Chivas,” said midfielder Andrew Jacobson, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday. “By being in goal, Brad got credit for a shutout. But I think we have really cleaned things up across the board. We’re not making the same mistakes we were making earlier in the season. I think we’re all happy for Brad and for us as a club.”
With five games remaining, Knighton is preparing to play. Nothing has changed in terms of his game-by-game routine.
“I never know if I’m playing, so I have to prepare each day,” Knighton said. “I go each day at a time. I hope I’m in there, and I’m happy with the trust and confidence they have shown in me.”