VANCOUVER, B.C. – It’s uncertain whether Brad Knighton has won back the starting job in goal for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
What is known is that last weekend, the Richmond, Va., native made his first Major League Soccer start of the 2013 season – this after head coach Martin Rennie made the surprising preseason move to go back to Joe Cannon as No. 1 following Knighton’s strong finish to the 2012 season, where he entered the playoffs as first choice.
“Obviously the start of this year wasn’t what I expected going into the offseason and working my tail off to keep my spot coming in,” Knighton told MLSsoccer.com recently. “I expected to start the year, but some things don’t always turn out the way that you want them, and it’s a matter of how you react in those situations.”
Knighton’s reaction has been one of a good pro. Given the way the 28-year-old finished the 2012 campaign, he could be forgiven for moping about over Rennie’s decision to bench him in favor of Cannon or for even reacting angrily to his coach’s choice.
Instead, he has maintained his professionalism and has bided his chance to once again get a crack at the starting job, making the most of reserve appearances, and notably, using his starting job in Amway Canadian Championship matches to make a push for MLS involvement, most recently keeping a clean sheet in the first leg of the cup final at the Montreal Impact last week.
“Any time there’s a cup on the line, it’s huge,” Knighton said. “We’ve got a cup final here [on May 29], to right the ship and give our fans something to cheer about – because 11 times they haven’t been able to hold a cup – what better chance than now?”
In an interview over the weekend, Rennie stated the reason for his initial switch back to Cannon in preseason was simply down to preseason performance and the level of fitness the 38-year-old demonstrated.
He explained the switch back to Knighton for this weekend’s match against the Portland Timbers was due to the ‘keeper’s distribution and command of the box – as for what he needs to do to play more MLS games this season?
“He needs to continue to train hard and keeping working on his game,” Rennie said. “The results of the team often impact the lineup as well, but he needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
“His presence is good, he’s doing well on crosses, and he’s making the saves that he should make. His kicking’s good – all those things are generally good. He just needs to keep working on that and keep having confidence.”