Hours after Matt Reis drew the curtains on his illustrious playing career, the New England Revolution re-acquired his former backup, Brad Knighton, via trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday.
Knighton, who was originally signed by the club in 2007 after a successful preseason tryout, re-joins the club after he was drafted by Philadelphia Union in the 2009 expansion draft. The Revolution sent a conditional pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft to Vancouver to bring back the 28-year-old goalkeeper.
““My family and I couldn’t be more excited to be coming back to New England, where I began my career,” Knighton said in a team release on Wednesday. “I had three incredible years here and I couldn’t think of a better city, organization and team to return to. I can’t be happier this worked out.”
After putting together an impressive display in front of former manager Steve Nicol on a wintry Friday night in February 2007, the undrafted goalkeeper went on to sign a contract before the start of the 2007 regular season.
Knighton didn’t see first team action during his first season with the Revolution while serving as the third-string keeper behind Reis and backup Doug Warren. Nevertheless, it was just a matter of time before he got his feet between the sticks.
When Reis suffered an early-season right knee injury in 2009, Knighton stepped into the starter’s role and made his MLS debut against the New York Red Bulls on Mar. 28. He made three saves, but was victimized by a Jay Heaps own goal in the 35th minute as the match ended 1-1.
A week later, he earned his first MLS win behind a 2-1 win over FC Dallas at Gillette Stadium. On the season, Knighton made six starts and went 1-2-3, with a 2.33 goals against average.
Despite the promise he showed during his short stint as a starter, the Revolution left him unprotected during the expansion draft after the end of the 2009 season. Philadelphia picked up the keeper, and while he remained a backup with the Union, he made eight starts for them during the 2010 season. But after going 3-3-1, with two shutouts and a 1.10 goals against average, the club released him prior to First Kick 2011.
Knighton later resurfaced with the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL in 2011 and earned Best XI honors that season, as he helped guide his hometown side to a regular-season championship.
He returned to MLS in 2012 with the Whitecaps – who were guided by former RailHawks boss Martin Rennie – and posted a combined 1.11 goals against average and five shutouts, while going 9-6-5 from 2012-13. In 2013, he went 6-3-2 with a 1.36 GAA in 11 starts.
Although Knighton was eligible for the Re-Entry Process, which begins tomorrow, the teams had a 5 p.m. deadline today to complete trades. Knighton also opted out of the Re-Entry Process to facilitate the Wednesday’s trade.
“We’re very pleased to be able to bring Brad back to the Revolution,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a team release on Wednesday. “We rate Brad highly and we did not expect him to be available to us tomorrow with the 12th pick of the Re-Entry Draft’s first round. We’re looking forward to him coming back to New England.”