With Danish goalkeeper David Ousted eligible to play this weekend against the Chicago Fire after the opening of the North American transfer window on Tuesday, Knighton’s comments now become more than just hypothetical statements.
The Whitecaps acquired Ousted on June 20 from Danish Superliga side Randers FC on a free transfer, but the rumours of his arrival preceded that by a couple of weeks.
It all must certainly be a challenging time for Knighton, who has wrestled Joe Cannon out of the starting job two seasons in a row, only to now face competition for his spot from a foreign goalkeeper who will likely make two or three times his salary and on paper at least appears to have impressive numbers.
“The club obviously brings David in, and it is a bit of a [blow],” Knighton told reporters after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Wednesday. “But you have to look into yourself and say ‘this is my job, I’ve been here,’ and you’ve got to make the most of it and push him. That’s what I’ve said from Day 1. [Head coach Martin Rennie] wants competition in every single spot, and goalkeeping is another spot he wants competition at.
“I think that bodes well for the entire team. Obviously people are pushing people for spots in the team. No spot on the team is given every single week and you have to work your way into it and if you’re not performing, someone’s going to go in there and take it.”
The 28-year-old Richmond, Virginia, native was quick, however, to point out that his rivalry with Ousted is purely professional – and stated he hopes to get to know his teammate and competitor better as a person in the days to come.
“He’s a great guy off the field,” Knighton said. “Very well spoken, great speaker of English. We haven’t had time to go sit down – I think maybe next week we’ll probably go out and have dinner and kind of get to know each other.
“It’s kind of been a bumpy road these last couple of weeks with everything going on. I want to sit down and learn about him and where he’s coming from and tell him about my family, and learn about his family. I’m sure we’ll sit down in the upcoming week and have a good chat.”
As for Ousted, the lanky Scandinavian seems to be enjoy his initial days in Vancouver and took part in a reserve match over the weekend in his first game action since arriving.
“I definitely feel ready,” Ousted said. “I got 90 minutes with the reserves – good game. I feel ready to go in whenever the team needs me.”
The other man affected by Ousted’s arrival is Cannon, who was absent from training on Wednesday. He was down in California due to an “appointment that was prearranged,” according to Rennie.
The new netminder’s arrival means that the 38-year-old Cannon goes further down the pecking order to third string. Given his hefty $190,000 salary, no team is likely to pick him up, and there is no point in waiving him unless a roster spot is needed – as his wage will still count against the salary cap.
“We’re very flexible with Joe,” Rennie said. “He’s been a great servant for the club, and if some good opportunity comes up for him then we’ll certainly help him with it. He’s been a fantastic leader here and he’s continuing to be that, so in the short term [he will remain a member of the roster].”
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