It didn't work out exactly as planned for Brad Knighton in Vancouver. After he was brought over from the Carolina RailHawks by former Head Coach Martin Rennie, Knighton would eventually usurp the starting Goalkeeper spot from veteran Joe Cannon, leading the club to their first playoff appearance. His win-loss record wasn't great, but he was rarely faulted for a team loss, as he gained a reputation for only allowing 'wonder goals' during the last half of that 2012 season.
The following season, Rennie surprised everyone by sticking Cannon back in the cage, putting Knighton onto the bench. When Knighton again re-took the job, he was eventually ousted by, well, David Ousted, who has been in net for the club ever since. Knighton was jettisoned to the New England Revolution in the off-season, the club he was with from 2007 to 2009.
Given that the club ultimately chose somebody else for the job, you'd forgive Knighton if he was sour from the experience. However, Knighton says he only has fond memories of Vancouver.
"It's going to be great to see some of the guys," says Knighton. "It's going to be strange being on the opposite end of the field, but having the relationship I have with some of the guys on the team, I'm looking forward to seeing them on game day."
Knighton says he still keeps in contact with guys like Russell Teibert, Nigel Reo-Coker, and most of all, Jordan Harvey.
"We were pretty close, I mean we use to live two or three blocks away from each other," says Knighton. "We played in Philadelphia together too, so we have a very good relationship."
He describes his relationship with former Head Coach Martin Rennie in a similar fashion. While it was Rennie who ultimately sealed the fate of Knighton by bringing in David Ousted, Knighton remains thankful to the Scot for giving him another shot in MLS.
"I felt like every day in training and every game I played, I left it all out there... but you have to bite the bullet sometimes when things don't go your way," says Knighton. "Martin and I still keep in touch, and we have a great relationship, and we'll continue to have a great relationship."
Knighton was able to forge a strong relationship with the fans as well, with spectacular saves and performances that the club hasn't seen in net since.
"The fans in Vancouver are some of the best fans in MLS, and it was great to be a part of," says Knighton. "The Dark Knighton sign and everything else they had to offer, the great experience my wife and family had in Vancouver are in large part to them."
However, if you're wondering if it will in fact be Knighton who takes the cage for the Revolution this Sunday, he's not revealing his hand quite yet.
"I guess you'll have to wait and see on Saturday night" he says with a chuckle.
From a writer's standpoint, I'd love nothing more than to see Knighton face off against his old teammates. From a fan's point of view, a motivated Knighton eager to prove himself might be the last thing the Whitecaps want to tangle with.