Brad Knighton is putting a lot of expectations on himself ahead of the 2014 season. He wants to earn 12-14 shutouts, be the league leader for the goals-against-average, help the New England Revolution get to the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
For Knighton, preseason was the first step in achieving those goals.
"You train the way that you're going to play and I felt like this preseason I've done everything in my power to prepare to play in the games," Knighton explained. "I've made the saves that I've had to in order to keep us in the game all throughout preseason."
Knighton logged a total of 300 preseason minutes, allowing one goal and recording two shutouts. Those games were far from quiet, as the former Vancouver man made several acrobatic saves to keep his opponents off the scoreboard. In his most recent outing, Knighton had three world-class stops to help the Revs earn a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.
Knighton hopes that his solid preseason form will make him the starting goalkeeper on March 8th. In order to take ownership of the spot, Knighton must best Bobby Shuttleworth, a player that he knows well since they were both on the Revolution's squad in 2009.
Now reunited, Knighton and Shuttleworth have spent plenty of time together off the field, including sharing a room in Bradenton, while also motivating each other on the field.
"We are friends on and off the field," Knighton commented. "We both feel like we deserve to play and that's the competition that you want. We've both established that we can possibly be a number one in this league."
Even if Knighton is named the starter for the season opener in Houston, he knows that the competition won't be over. Last year, Heaps alternated between Shuttleworth and Matt Reis, depending on who he thought was performing best in practice. The same will likely be true this year.
"I think we are both going to get a chance, whether it's me on opening kick or whether it's Bobby on opening kick," Knighton enlightened. "It's a long season, it's a 34 game season, and they're going to see who has the hot hand."
The goalkeeper position will be one of interest this year as the Revs are without the legendary Reis, who retired during the offseason to accept a job as the LA Galaxy's goalkeeping coach. Knighton isn't trying to be a clone of Reis. Rather, he hopes to earn his spot through his own unique talents.
"I'm not trying to fill Matt's shoes," Knighton stated. "I'm trying to bring my own expressions to this team and to this back line in a way that they will accept me in that role."
Now that preseason is over, Knighton is eager for the first game of the season to arrive. He knows, however, that he must keep his attention on practicing the fundamentals.
"It's one day at a time, one game at a time, but this team is coming together," Knighton summarized. "You're not going to lose if you don't give up goals."
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