PHILADELPHIA — The past season was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Chris Seitz.
So far, the offseason hasn’t been much smoother.
First, the Union goalkeeper – whose 2010 campaign was marred by inconsistent play, bad breaks and a late-season benching – was left unprotected for the Expansion Draft, and then pulled back onto the protected list after Shea Salinas was selected. Afterward, team manager Peter Nowak explained that the team made a significant investment in Seitz when they traded for him before the start of last season and that they still believe he can improve with more experience.
“Any time you get a vote of confidence from the coaching staff, it means a lot,” Seitz responded. “I give them my all every day and it’s good to see that they have faith in me.”
A day after Seitz said that, however, it was revealed that the Union declined to pick up the option on the young goalie’s contract, leaving him exposed for the league’s re-entry draft Wednesday. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Union won’t want Seitz around next season – if he’s not selected at his current price tag by another team, the Union will have a week to renegotiate a new deal with him before Stage 2 of the re-entry draft – it’s certainly not another vote of confidence.
At any rate, Seitz has tried to take it all in stride, saying that he understands the business aspect of offseason decisions. And through it all, he has remained close with Brad Knighton, who took over starting duties for Seitz this past season. Knighton, who guided the Union to their only two league shutouts, was also left unprotected for the expansion draft.
“We’re friends,” Seitz said. “We’re not only teammates but we sit next to each other in the locker room and we hang out. He and I, we’re good. There’s always competition, you’re always fighting for jobs, but we can make it a good relationship as well. We both want to have that competition and we both understand that will make us better. We’re all right with it."
[inline_node:288305]Seitz and Knighton have been smart to lean on each other since both had to overcome plenty of adversity. Knighton’s first start, against FC Dallas on Aug. 8, ended abruptly when he bobbled a ball and then picked up a red card. That was a month before Seitz left the starting lineup for good after letting up a soft goal against Kansas City.
“They’re both good pros and they both handle their business the right way,” said Rob Vartughian, the Union’s goalkeeping coordinator. “Both of those guys want to be on the field but they also both support each other. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for. If you watch the post games, you’ll see one is the first guy out to greet the other after a match. The chemistry between the two is good.”
No matter what pans out in the offseason and who the Union trot out in goal to start the 2011 season, Vartughian believes both keepers learned a lot from the highs and lows of the 2010 campaign.
“For those guys, they know how we feel about them,” the Union assistant coach said. “Both of them grew. Both of them got better. The reality is we still believe in both of them and where the future is. And we’ll try to protect them as much as we can.”
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