By: Todd Kurpel
Philadelphia Union’s backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton stole the show in the international friendly between Chivas de Guadalajara that was held at the Union’s home stadium, PPL Park on Wednesday, September 1st. Knighton’s eight saves were the difference in the match as the Union were able to hold on to secure a 1-0 victory. The loan goal was scored by Jack McInerney with the assist being credited to Justin Mapp.
Knighton was given the start over regular goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who has logged the majority of the goalkeeping minutes for the Union in regular season play. Knighton, who has only received a couple of opportunities to play for the Union has had ups and downs. On July 14th, he split the minutes to in goal with Brian Perk to help the Union shut out Celtic F.C. in another friendly. On August 8th, Knighton was given a start against FC Dallas and received a red card early twenty-two minutes into the match that caused the Union to play a man down. The Union would never be able to recover and ended up losing the match.
Knighton’s effort against Chivas de Guadalajara perhaps has given Union Team Manager Peter Novak the confidence he needed to perhaps give Seitz a rest in a regular season MLS match. Although Guadalajara seemed to always be on the verge of scoring, Mexico’s popular team was not able to get anything past Knighton, who made a couple of acrobatic saves worthy for highlight reels.
The Union subbed their entire first team, except for Knighton and defender Michael Orozco Fiscal, after the first half. After a scoreless half, the Union opened the scoring early as Mapp was able to find a cutting McInerney who had slipped past the Chivas’ defense. McInerney received the pass within the box with only goalkeeper Sergio Arias to beat and simply hit a low strike past the disadvantaged ‘keeper giving the game its only goal.
This is the second time in as many games that Mapp and McInerney were able to connect on a scoring play. On Saturday, August 28th, the duo teamed together to find the equalizer against the New England Revolution. In that game, both Mapp and McInerney were used as late substitutions. With the Union struggling all season to find a scoring threat outside of Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga, both Mapp and McInerney are making strong cases for increased minutes.
The Union have short rest, as they are scheduled to host the Kansas City Wizards this Saturday, September 4th. In their previous meeting, the Union had a poor showing in Kansas City and fell 2-0. Perhaps with the experience of this friendly, the Union will be able to make the decisions needed to finish their expansion season on a strong note, starting this Saturday against Kansas City.