FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two of the newest additions to the New England Revolution’s roster were reunited with former teammates in the 2014 home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon.
Goalkeeper Brad Knighton spent the 2012 and 2013 season as a member of the Whitecaps, while central midfielder Daigo Kobayashi made his MLS debut for Saturday’s visitors last year.
Kobayashi, who played 75 minutes of the Revolution’s season opening loss at Houston, spelled Saer Sene in the 58th minute of New England’s home opener.
The creative midfielder almost broke the deadlock in the 81st minute. Diego Fagundez whiffed on Andrew Farrell’s cross from the right side. The ball fell to Kobayashi, whose goal-bound shot deflected off Vancouver defender Andy O’Brien’s back and out for a corner kick.
“Daigo’s a great player,” said Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted, who played with Kobayashi last season in Vancouver. “You can see he has a lot of skill on the ball, and when he got on you can see he had more of a presence in midfield.
“I think Daigo’s going to do great here. He’s a great guy and a great player.”
Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson worked as an assistant coach in Vancouver in 2012 and 2013, before taking the reigns as head coach after last season. The Welshman praised Kobayashi’s skill and thinks he can succeed with his new club if New England figures out the best role for the midfielder.
“Daigo, you can see, he has fantastic ability,” said Robinson. “He drifts in and out of games sometimes – it’s about finding the right position for Daigo.”
Knighton made 21 appearances for the Whitecaps before his move to New England last December after longtime Revolution keeper Matt Reis retired.
Ousted remembers Knighton as a hard worker and thinks the Revolution are a good fit for the 29-year-old.
“Brad is a hard worker and is out there every day working hard and improving,” said Ousted. “I think the Revolution will be happy with the way he’s pushing Shuttleworth right now. I think it’s only going to be a strength from their side to have strong keepers in there.”
Robinson agreed that Knighton can compete with Shuttleworth for the starting job in New England.
“Brad’s a very reliable goalkeeper,” said Robinson. “He’s a great shot-stopper. He’s got an opportunity to play here.”
Current Revolution starter Lee Nguyen entered MLS as a Vancouver player in a 2011 lottery, but never played in a game for the Whitecaps. The team waived him in March 2012, before New England picked him up.
Robinson hopes Knighton and Kobayashi find similar success as members of the Revolution.
“I hope both of them come here and do really well, like Lee Nguyen did,” said Robinson. “I really do.”