A goalkeeper with experience of Major League Soccer and North America’s lower divisions, Brad Knighton joined Whitecaps FC on Jan. 17, 2012, after spending the 2011 season with North American Soccer League side Carolina RailHawks. A former New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union shot-stopper, Knighton became the first player from the University of North Carolina Wilmington to sign with MLS when he joined the league back in 2007.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER 2012: Knighton made his Whitecaps FC competitive debut when he replaced an injured Joe Cannon late in the first half of Vancouver’s 1-0 away win over Chivas USA on Mar. 17. He helped the ‘Caps earn a clean sheet and their first-ever away win in MLS, as a result. Knighton earned his first Whitecaps FC start in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, as Vancouver won 2-0 at North American Soccer League side FC Edmonton on May 2. His first MLS start for Whitecaps FC came in a 2-1 home win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 11. Knighton then started Whitecaps FC’s first-ever match in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Nov. 1, as Vancouver fell 2-1 at defending champions LA Galaxy. 2011: After being part of Philadelphia Union’s inaugural MLS squad, Knighton was waived by the Pennsylvania-based outfit on Jan. 25. 2010: As a member of the Union, the goalkeeper made his Philadelphia debut in a 3-1 defeat at FC Dallas on Aug. 8. On Sept. 11, Knighton’s second start for Philadelphia resulted in his - and the Union’s - first clean sheet in MLS following a 1-0 home win over Chicago Fire. Knighton made eight starts in goal for that season, posting a 1.10 goals-against average. He also claimed for 180 scoreless minutes in friendlies versus Scottish giants Celtic FC, English Premier League side Manchester United FC, and Mexico’s Club Deportivo (Chivas) Guadalajara. 2009: In his third season with New England Revolution, Knighton made his MLS debut in a 1-1 draw at New York Red Bulls on Mar. 28. He went on to make six starts for the Massachusetts outfit, recording a 2.33 goals-against average. His first career MLS victory came on Apr. 4, as Knighton made nine saves in a 2-1 home win over FC Dallas. He also appeared in New England’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup third-round defeat to United Soccer Leagues Second Division club Harrisburg City Islanders, as the Revolution fell 2-1 at home after extra time on June 30. On Nov. 25, Knighton was selected third overall by Philadelphia in the 2009 MLS Expansion Draft. 2007: As an undrafted free agent, Knighton signed an MLS developmental contract with New England on Feb. 26 following a successful preseason trial with the Revolution. During the preseason, he started in New England’s 3-1 friendly win over Honduran outfit Club Deportivo Olimpia in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Mar. 25.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER RESERVE LEAGUE 2012: The goalkeeper made his debut for Whitecaps FC reserves, as they drew 1-1 at home to Seattle Sounders FC reserves on Mar. 26. 2008: Knighton earned one shutout and a 1.14 goals-against average after making four starts in his second season with New England Revolution reserves, as they finished 13th in the MLS Reserve League standings with a 2W-6L-2D record. 2007: He started four of his six appearances with New England’s reserves squad, registering a goals-against average of 1.40. He posted a clean sheet after making six saves versus Houston Dynamo reserves on July 22. The Revolution second string finished third in the MLS Reserve League standings with a 6W-4L-2D record that season.
NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE 2011: After four seasons in MLS, Knighton played a year in the second-tier North American Soccer League (NASL) when he joined current Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie at Carolina RailHawks. His efforts earned him a spot on the NASL Best XI, while he was a runner-up for the league’s Golden Glove award after registering eight clean sheets and a goals-against average of 0.94 in 28 regular-season appearances for Carolina. The goalkeeper played every minute for the North Carolina-based outfit that season, as the RailHawks claimed the NASL regular season title before falling in the playoff semifinals to eventual NASL champions NSC Minnesota Stars (now Minnesota Stars FC) on Oct. 8 and 15. Minnesota won the semifinal series in a penalty shootout after a 4-4 aggregate draw.
UNITED SOCCER LEAGUES FIRST DIVISION 2008: In his second season with New England, Knighton joined United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) side Portland Timbers on loan on July 2. He played every minute of his eight appearances for the Pacific Northwest outfit, recording two shutouts and posting a goals-against average of 1.25. A stand-out performance in a goalless home draw versus future club Carolina on July 24 earned Knighton a spot in the USL-1 Team of the Week for Week 15. A month later, the keeper was recalled by parent club New England after Revolution number one Matt Reis suffered a right adductor strain.
UNITED SOCCER LEAGUES PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE 2006: Knighton made 11 appearances and registered a goals-against average of 1.78 during his lone season with Indiana Invaders, as they finished third in the Great Lakes Division of the PDL’s Central Conference.
SPANISH TERCERA DIVISION 2006-07: As a college senior, the goalkeeper travelled to Valencia, Spain, to train with Burjassot Club de Fútbol, who play in the Spanish fourth-tier Tercera División.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE 2005-06: Prior to his junior year in college, Knighton spent three weeks training with then English Premier League side Middlesbrough FC.
Knighton enjoyed a distinguished NCAA Division I career as a four-year starter with University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), becoming the first Seahawks player to sign a contract with MLS after starting all but four matches for the school between 2003 and 2006. During his time with UNCW, the goalkeeper helped the Seahawks make four consecutive trips to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship Tournament. Knighton is UNCW’s all-time leader in career shutouts with 24, while he ranks second all-time with a goals-against average of 1.08, and in total appearances with 75. He also set a Seahawks record for a single-season goals-against average (0.83) during his senior year, while posting six clean sheets. As a senior, the goalkeeper was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-South Atlantic Region Second Team and to the All-CAA First Team.
Knighton played his entire youth career with Richmond Strikers Soccer Club in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. His efforts earned him an invite to US Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program. As a senior at Mills E. Godwin High School in Richmond, Virginia, he led the Eagles to an undefeated record of 22W-0L, as Godwin claimed the 2003 Virginia state high school championship title. He earned All-State, All-Region, All-District, and All-Metro honours with the Eagles, while as a junior at Godwin, Knighton trained with MLS club D.C. United.
Born in Hickory, North Carolina, Knighton was raised in the Virginia state capital of Richmond. As a student at UNCW, the goalkeeper majored in exercise science. A family man, Knighton is married to wife Britney and father to young daughter Olivia.
Knighton once told UNCW student newspaper ‘The Seahawk’ - “I love clothes shopping and I shave my legs after a loss. I’ll let them grow again until our next loss. Most of the team thinks it’s weird, but I like to do it.”