On Saturday, the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-0 in their 13th match against a regional rival since entering MLS in 2011.
Goalkeeper Brad Knighton had quipped that the match would be “lucky No. 13” for the club, but Vancouver’s win had a lot more to do with his quality than any bit of fortune.
In his final match before new Danish goalkeeper David Ousted becomes available for selection when the North American transfer window opens on Tuesday, Knighton kept a clean sheet by making seven impressive stops.
“You don’t want to be dropped from a team,” Knighton told reporters following the match. “It’s my job to put in performances like that, to make [head coach Martin Rennie] think twice about taking me out of the lineup.
“Obviously, it’s been nice having [Ousted] here, because it’s going to push me and make me better, and that’s what you want at any position.”
Veteran Kenny Miller, who scored the opener with a classy effort after receiving a ball over the top from Corey Hertzog, said it’s a phenomenon he’s seen before – a new signing is made, and players who are at risk of losing playing time elevate their games.
“Sometimes if a player comes in your position, it maybe gives you that kick up the backside that you need to improve your game and step up to the plate,” Miller said of Knighton’s improvement since Ousted arrived in town. “If that’s what it’s taken Brad to feel that he needs to improve his game and get better, then that’s great.
“As long he keeps playing like that every week, we’ll be delighted.”
The game also saw Darren Mattocks score his second goal of the season after the Jamaican has struggled in MLS this year.
After an electric rookie season in which Mattocks scored seven goals and a playoff marker against the LA Galaxy, this year’s disappointing form – and his benching in recent weeks – have proved a challenge for the striker.
“It’s been a hard few months for him,” Miller said of Mattocks. “He’s obviously found himself out of the team and after the season he had last year, I’m sure he was expecting it to be a lot different this year…delighted for him to come on and get a goal.
“He could have had a few more at the end there. We’ve seen in flashes this season what Darren can bring…hopefully that will kick him on and we’ll start to see the best of him this year.”