FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Brad Friedel has continually stated from his first day on the job as New England Revolution head coach that the players have to earn their spots on the pitch.
Preseason proves to be the crux of that foundation, with approximately six weeks for the guys to really show the coaching staff what they can do and why they deserve to be in the starting 11.
That especially rings true for the goalkeepers, as 13-year veteran Brad Knighton captured Friedel’s attention over younger goalkeepers Matt Turner and Cody Cropper, earning Knighton the opportunity to start the 2019 opener in Dallas.
“It was a battle, like you said, between all three of us,” said Knighton. “Those two (Turner and Cropper) are ultimate professionals, as well, and in our position, only one person can play and it’s tough.
“But they were very supportive once they named the team and I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to play and just looking to take the opportunity and run with it.”
Last year, Friedel surprised many by selecting Turner, who at the time had yet to play in an MLS match, for the starting role after he demonstrated his potential and talents during preseason.
This campaign, Friedel’s decision to start Knighton confirmed the competition was truly a clean slate for the three goalkeepers as Knighton takes over the starting role.
“The battle was in preseason and it’s Brad’s shirt to lose at the moment,” said Friedel.
“It was a competition. Last year, Matt Turner won out at the beginning of the season, and this year, Brad did. And Cody Cropper did very, very well, as well, and you saw Cody on the bench. Every single day, all three push each other and that’s what we want. They have good relationships with one another and I’m sure that’s going to be an ongoing battle throughout the season.”
While the starting spot has been awarded to Knighton, this ongoing competition will benefit the team and continue to push all three goalkeepers to work as hard as they can throughout the season.
“I think it has to be said, we have three really, really good ‘keepers,” said Antonio Delamea, who played on the backline in front of Knighton in the Revs’ season opener in Dallas. “Any of them can step in and do great for us, and this is just a good thing for the team. This time it was Brad, and I think he did a good job.”
The Revs will open at home in Foxborough this weekend, kicking off against Columbus Crew SC at 2 p.m. on Saturday.