New England Soccer Today

A Knight-on Shining Armor

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Brad Knighton might have only been credited with three saves but his work from the first minute until the final whistle was more than enough to earn his first shutout in over two years.

Knighton was tested less than two minutes in on a header by former teammate Patrick Mullins from inside the area but easily collected the ball and was in control from there on out. Knighton found out he was starting on Thursday after starting goalie Bobby Shuttleworth suffered a concussion in training.

“It was huge,” Knighton said of getting back in the lineup. “Obviously Bobby has done very well this season and he had a very good season last year so it’s tough to break into the lineup. It’s unfortunate what happened in training this week but you just have to wait for your opportunity and make the most of it. Credit to all the guys for today, it was a collective team effort. We’ve been looking for that effort over the last couple of months. It wasn’t the prettiest at times but we got the result we wanted and finally another win in the win column.”

The shutout was his first since July 6th, 2013 when he was a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps, a game in which helped beat the Seattle Sounders 2-0. It also was Knighton’s first ever shutout with New England in league play.

David Villa’s back heel set Tommy McNamara up on the left flank and the cross was put right into the area to Mullins but Knighton was perfectly positioned to gobble it up. Although it wasn’t the hardest of saves, it was a good start for Knighton. New England had conceded a gaol in the first 20 minutes in each of the last four games.

“Obviously we’ve conceded a lot of goals over the last couple of weeks,” Knighton said. “So we really concentrated this week on being sound defensively and not giving anything away and managing the first part of the game. We’ve gone down early in the first part of the game in a handful of games and for us to get that early goal and get that confidence in us was huge tonight.”

“I don’t think that one was a difficult save but it was a good save for him to get,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “The crowd was behind him and that’s the kind of save that gets a player going. Like a midfielder getting the first tackle in, it feels pretty good. I didn’t think it was an overly excellent effort, I don’t think it tested him much but it was a good feeling to make sure he had the ball in his hands and the crowd was behind him.”

Despite being credited with just three saves, Knighton actually pushed aside four shots on goal. In the 50th minute, McNamara sprang Villa down the left flank and the Spanish international sprinted from midfield into New England’s area where he blasted a shot. But Knighton held his ground and pushed it back out, allowing Daigo Kobayashi to spring Charlie Davies for a chance on the counter attack.

“I thought Brad was really good,” Heaps said. “He was thrust into it on Thursday. He really took the challenge. He was good in the air, he made some good saves and I think he communicated real well. I think we know having him on our roster is really good.”

Knighton didn’t have much before having to jump into action again, as McNamara tried to level the scoring just two minutes later. Andoli Iraola played a through ball for McNamara and the former Western Mass Pioneers player ripped a right footed shot that forced Knighton to reach out to his right and push wide for a corner.

“He was rock solid, which was no surprise,” Revolution All-Star captain left back Chris Tierney said. “Brad’s a guy that has been in this league for a while. He’s been a number one. He’s proven that he’s number one quality, we just happen to have Bobby. So it was a great performance out of him. I thought he made some really important olds at the end there. No Hollywood saves or anything like that, but some really tough plays that he squeezed and didn’t give up rebounds and that’s huge for us as defenders to take some pressure off us.”

Besides his four saves, Knighton came off his line for four punch clearances and also came off his line to snag a pair of crosses.

“I think that’s a big part of my game is being able to control the box,” Knighton said. “I feel crosses and distribution are probably my key attributes. Whenever I can come claim stuff off my line, I’m looking to do that. I play a little higher line than Bobby but that’s just my comfort and that’s where I like to be.”

It wasn’t just Knighton that was different about New England’s defense as Jeremy Hall was inserted into the lineup at right back and London Woodberry moved to center back because of the absence of Jose Goncalves, who was serving a one game suspension after getting a red card against New York Red Bulls last week.

“Obviously having Jose out made it difficult but the guys that stepped in, all the guys know their roles on this team and it’s a the next guy up mentality, whoever is going to be in there needs to know their role and do it to the best of their ability,” Knighton. “I felt the back four tonight did a fantastic job of denying chances for them and we were able to keep a clean sheet.”

Knighton improved to 2-2 as a starter in his second stint with the Revolution, picking up his first win of 2015. He’s 3-4-3 overall as a starter for New England, including his first stint in 2009.

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