CHESTER, Pa. — Chris Seitz has been the man in net for Philadelphia this season. Starting every one of their league matches, the towering 'keeper has steadily improved with every passing match.
He was rested on Wednesday night, though, as Scottish giants Celtic were in town for a friendly. Team manager Peter Nowak instead went with his reserve stoppers, Brad Knighton and Brian Perk.
The two combined for a clean sheet in a match that didn’t involve either of them too much until late, when former UCLA Bruin Perk was forced to make a few key saves.
The rookie said after the match that he wasn’t daunted by the pressing Celtic squad, and that confidence saw him earn the shutout.
“That’s not something that a goalkeeper doesn’t face,” said Perk. “It happens from time to time. For me, it’s about being confident in all the guys. We do it in training all the time, and the team was behind me, so there is no reason to panic. You just have to do it on this stage and move on.”
Perk played the entire second half, while the first half was given to former New England Revolution shot-stopper Knighton. The 25-year-old said he was excited to get some playing time so that he could show the Philadelphia fans -- and his teammates -- what he was capable of, particularly against such a top-quality opponent.
“It was great,” said Knighton after the match. “Every time you can get out there and play a top international team like that, it’s definitely a great experience for everyone. I felt like I did all right. I had two straight free kicks and caught a ball and played a few to my feet. Other than that, I didn’t really have much to do, and that’s a good thing.”
Knighton had nothing but good things to say about his understudy Perk, who replaced him at halftime. He said the young 'keeper helped keep the momentum going, and that should, hopefully, continue into their match this weekend against Toronto FC.
“He did well,” said Knighton of the 20-year-old Perk. “I feel like we’ve got the three best goalkeepers in the league here, and we’re all young, so that bodes well for all of us. He came on and made a couple good saves and helped us get the zero, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
For both goalies though, getting out there in front of the home crowd and feeling the energy from the support was something that couldn’t be replicated. Perk in particular can’t wait to experience it again.
“It was awesome, I had a blast," Perk said. "I think that’s what everyone wants to play in, at least for their first game. There were a few Celtic fans around and the Sons of Ben were incredible. Every time I step on the field it’s like, ‘Wow, the fans here are awesome.’ It was simply amazing.”