Despite Union defeat, Whitecaps FC 'keeper Knighton takes solace in holding No. 1 job
VANCOUVER, BC – A good pro is never happy after a defeat, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton took some solace in keeping his starting spot for his side’s 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union over the weekend.
Since the arrival of Danish goalkeeper David Ousted in June, Knighton has endured constant questioning about his status as the club’s No. 1 goalkeeper, but he’s now played three matches in a row since his rival became eligible to play on July 9 with the opening of the North American transfer window.
“That shows a lot from the manager, having belief in you and giving you a run of games,” Knighton told reporters following Saturday’s loss. “It’s huge for my confidence and it’s up to me to keep the shirt, and it’s based on how I do in training and how I do in the games.
“But obviously having the backing from the manager is huge, and like I said from the get-go, I’m trying to get this team points and up the table and as many wins as possible while I’m in there. That’s my job.”
That run of three games since Ousted became eligible has included two consecutive defeats, which perhaps will open the door to further questions ahead of this weekend’s showdown with the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field, but the circumstances of both of those results will surely fall in Knighton’s favor.
The first defeat, a loss to the LA Galaxy on July 20, was a team capitulation rather than a particularly poor showing from Knighton.
As for this most recent loss, it was a gutwrenching 1-0 defeat suffered with just five minutes left after the team played the majority of the match down a man after Jun Marques Davidson’s eighth minute dismissal.
With the suspensions to midfielders in Gershon Koffie, yellow card accumulation, and Davidson, as well as the question marks surrounding striker Kenny Miller (adductor tightness) and centre back Bard Rusin (hip contusion), head coach Martin Rennie will be forced to make at least two changes to the starting XI.
As for Knighton himself, he’s happy with his play in recent weeks and continues to exude confidence.
“I feel good,” Knighton said. “Obviously two losses in a row isn’t good, but I feel like I have total command of my box. I feel like I’m keeping us in games, I’m being very aggressive off my line and making the saves I need to win the games.
“Ultimately, it’s just about winning games.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.