Major League Soccer looks a lot different than when Brad Knighton entered the league in 2007.
The way Netminder got his first contract shows how long he’s been around. His coach at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington was Aiden Heaney, who played for New England in 1996 for his Revolution. Knighton sent his VHS tapes to coaches Stevie Nicholl and Paul his Mariner.
Knighton joked after mentioning VHS.
The tape led to an invitation to join a group of clubs, which led to a pre-season trip to the Bahamas.
Knighton spent 12 years with the Revolution during his 16-year playing career. He also played in Philadelphia in the MLS He played in the Union and Vancouver He played in the Whitecaps, Carolina Railhawks in the NASL, Portland in USL-1 He played in the Timbers, Richmond in USL He played in the Kickers and Revolution II in USL League 1 also participated.
Knighton alternated between starter and backup over the course of his career. Regardless of his role, he was always a team player.
Knighton was asked to appear in two MLS Reserve League games against Chicago Fire and DC United in 2009.
“They needed a field player, so I stood in for Stevie and Paul,” recalls Knighton. “We were playing at DC United, so we were playing on the flank, so we actually hit the crossbar in that match.
“It’s a great memory,” Knighton said, adding, “In a million years I’ll never be able to walk a field and play a game like I did when I first started out, but that’s what it’s like. It was MLS. MLS is a whole different animal now.”
Since Knighton first joined the league, the quality of players, facilities and tactics has grown tremendously. With his Cup of Worlds in the United States in 2026, Knighton believes he thinks MLS will only get “bigger and better.”
Knighton played his last game with the Revolution, but will continue to shape the organization as coach of the academy. He will lead the U-17 team in the spring.
When his goalkeeper’s contract with the Rebs expired at the end of 2022, he considered several options, including an opportunity to become a player-manager with another team. Knighton eventually decided to accept his gig coaching within the organization he has called home for 12 years.
It’s just another way MLS has grown since Knighton entered the league. Academy is now important to how the team builds its roster. Diego Fagundes and Scott Caldwell remain some of the most notable homegrowns in Revs history, but Noel Buck, Esmir Bayraktarevich, Justin Lennix and Damian Rivera have their brightest moments. had.
More players are expected to join, and Knighton can play a key role in the process. These players will have the opportunity to train in world-class facilities under coaches who once played for the first team.
It’s a far cry from where the league was in 2007.
“The road is bright,” said Knighton. “Since Rob [Becerra],cart [Onalfo] and blues [Arena] They all came in and changed the culture of the academy, changed the way it was run, changed the players, changed the system, changed everything about it…”
“…our current goal is to get as many academy kids as possible from the second team to the first team and get first team minutes. I don’t think I can.”