By: Todd Kurpel
Philadelphia Union’s Brad Knighton is thriving in his new starting role in goal, as he recorded his second shutout on Saturday, September 25th against Chivas USA. In addition to the shutout, which was Knighton’s second in his past three matches, the Union scored three goals for the first time since June. At the end of the day, the 3-0 victory was perhaps the Union’s most dominating performance in the young franchise’s history.
Knighton had been patiently waiting for his turn in goal behind Chris Seitz all season. Seitz began the year in goal, and although he looked shaky early on with a number of costly errors, he had earned the trust of Team Manager Peter Nowak and gained most of the starts. Knighton did not get his chance in goal until he was named the starter for a match on August 8th against FC Dallas. His first start did not last long as he was given a red card for taking down Brek Shea who had a clear run on goal.[picappgallerysingle id=”9852328″]
Knighton’s second opportunity for an MLS start came on September 11th first the Chicago Fire. Knighton did not make any mistakes in this game and he walked away with the team’s first shutout in goal, as the Union beat the Fire 1-0. The shutout earned Knighton some more starts and after Saturday’s convincing victory over Chivas, Knighton may have won the job for good.
The Union opened the scoring against Chivas USA in the 26th minute when Alejandro Moreno headed in a corner taken by Justin Mapp past Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton who had taken himself out of position during the play by getting involved in the scrum in front of the goal. The goal was just the second off a corner on the season for the Union and it was just the second goal for Moreno. Moreno has struggled with injuries which has lead to a relatively disappointing season for the forward. He looked healthy in the match against Chivas which could be a sign that he will finish the season out strong.
The Union caught a break at the end of the first half when Chivas’ Mariano Trujillo was given a yellow card along the left touchline which resulted in a free kick. Sebastien Le Toux took the free kick and sent a low service into the box that was received by Moreno. Moreno’s shot on goal resulted in a rebound which was sent back into the goal by Fred, who notched his third goal of the season.
The 2-0 lead at halftime seemed to deflate Chivas who did not have many opportunities to test Knighton. Le Toux got into the scoring mix in the second half when he was involved with a minor scuffle with Michael Umana who appeared to take an attempt at sending a knee into the side of the Frenchman after he had fallen on the ground. The play resulted in a yellow card for Umana and a free kick just outside the top of the box for Le Toux. Le Toux sent a low shot through the wall that appeared to clip a Chivas defender which redirected the ball past a diving Thornton. The goal was Le Toux’s tenth of the season and his combined total of 22 points and assists places him one ahead of Landon Donovan for the most in MLS play.
The Union have a busy week as they travel to Colorado on Wednesday to face the Rapids before returning back to PPL Park in Chester, PA to face the Houston Dynamo.