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Season review: Brad Knighton

Editor’s note: PSP is running season reviews for each Philadelphia Union player. You can read all the reviews here.

Brad Knighton came to Philadelphia as the underdog, and despite some solid play down the stretch, that hasn’t changed.

Philadelphia Union picked him in last year’s expansion draft and promptly traded for Chris Seitz, effectively relegating Knighton to the bench. Knighton patiently waited his turn though, and when he finally got a start, he bombed out with a 24th minute red card.

That looked like the end, but when he got a second chance in September, he made the most of it, earning the Union’s first ever clean sheet.

Knighton played well during the Union’s best run of the season, earning another clean sheet. He recorded a save percentage 10 points better than Seitz recorded and a goals against average more than a third lower than Seitz, and he showed fearlessness in goal and a willingness to come flying off his line when necessary. He also made some mistakes, but that’s what happens with young goalkeepers.

In the end, Knighton had clearly earned the starting job, but it’s clear his hold on it is tenuous. Seitz started the season’s last game, and when the Union had to choose a player to pull back and protect after Shea Salinas was chosen in the expansion draft, they chose Seitz, not Knighton. The Union could bring in a veteran to challenge both keepers, but either way, Knighton definitely showed people around the legaue he could play.

2010 statistics

8 games (8 starts), 652 minutes, 2 shutouts, 8 goals allowed, 33 shots on goal, 23 saves, 0.697 save percentage, 1.1 goals against average, 3 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw

High point

The first shutout. It was a big moment not just for Knighton but for the whole defense, taking a huge burden off their shoulders after a season of frustration. When they recorded a second shutout soon after, it showed it wasn’t a fluke but rather a much improved defense overall.

Low point

The red card in the Dallas game. Had Seitz not muffed Davy Arnaud’s free kick at home against Kansas City to earn his benching, Knighton may not have gotten another chance.

Strengths

Knighton is an aggressive player who plays without fear. He has solid reflexes and had some big saves this season. He produces very strong goal kicks.

Weaknesses

Knighton had a few occasions where he could have caught balls and didn’t. At least one resulted in a goal, and another could have.

Outlook

Knighton showed this year he can play. He made the league minimum of $40,000 this season, so at such an affordable salary, he’s definitely a keeper, even if he’s a backup. He played well enough down the stretch to stake a claim to the starting job, but in all likelihood, he’ll have to win it all over again in training camp. The Union could bring in a veteran goalkeeper to challenge Knighton and Seitz for the starting job.

That said, Knighton showed resilience in the way he played after the Dallas slip-up. If he can hold onto the job and play well, he’s certain to be a fan favorite, because he will have overcome a situation in which he was clearly the coaches’ second choice at goalkeeper. Seitz seemingly has the deck stacked in his favor: high salary, his college goalkeepers coach working for the Union as goalkeepers coach and now even expansion draft protection over Knighton. But it all comes down to what they do on the field. Knighton might be the underdog, but so was Rocky.

(Photo: Paul Rudderow)

https://phillysoccerpage.net/2010/08/08/fc-dallas-3-1-philadelphia-union/

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