After spending the past two seasons in a fierce competition to be the starting goalkeeper with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Brad Knighton is set for more of the same in his return to the New England Revolution.
The 28-year-old rejoined the Revs in a Dec. 11 trade, but the six-year MLS veteran was not guaranteed a starting role with Bobby Shuttleworth coming off a 22-start campaign in 2013. Knighton said he was told right away by manager Jay Heaps – his former roommate during his playing days with the Revs – that the “hot hand” would get the nod.
“That was the thing that stood out for me was that you’re going to get a fair shot and a fair crack at it,” Knighton told MLSsoccer.com by phone from the team’s preseason training camp in Bradenton, Fla., "and all you can ask is to have someone be upfront and honest with you."
Knighton began 2013 as the Whitecaps starter but was pushed into a backup role after the signing of Danish goalkeeper David Ousted. In November, the club decided not to pick up his option for 2014, leaving Knighton eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process, but he opted out to rejoin his former team.
“With [Vancouver] not picking up my option – they wanted me to come back, I think, at a lower number," Knighton said. "Obviously, I wanted to test the waters elsewhere and see what else was available out there for me."
When he heard about possible interest from the Revolution, Knighton was thrilled.
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“To get back in the United States was a huge thing for me and to be able to come back to New England was kind of a no-brainer,” he said.
Shuttleworth and Knighton were teammates on the Revs back in 2009 and stayed in touch since that season. That year both goalkeepers served as backups to then starter Matt Reis, who retired at the end of the 2013 season. Now they will be competing to take his spot.
“Whether it’s [Shuttleworth] or I that starts the first game, it’s going to take both of us to get through this entire season,” Knighton said. “We’re in this together and it’s going to be a great battle for the two of us these next five weeks.”