Union's Knighton blanks Fire in 1-0 win

Posted: September 12, 2010

The Union made a change in goal and were rewarded with their first shutout of their inaugural Major League Soccer season.

Making only his second start of the season, Brad Knighton produced some good saves and decisions as the Union defeated the Chicago Fire, 1-0, on Saturday before a sellout crowd of 18,563 at PPL Park in Chester.

It was the first career MLS shutout for Knighton, who replaced Chris Seitz.

After Seitz allowed a savable goal in last week's 1-1 draw with the visiting Kansas City Wizards, Union team manager Peter Nowak decided to make the change, which he says was a game-time decision.

"It's an honor to get my first professional shutout," Knighton said. "It goes back to the guys in front of me, and we have been working eight months and it finally paid off."

To work so hard and spend so much time on the bench hasn't been easy, but Knighton kept plugging away.

"It's a grind, but I know my role," Knighton said. "Chris is our starter and I waited for the opportunity and tried to make the most of it."

The Union (6-11-6) don't have much time to enjoy the win. They visit San Jose on Wednesday. Chicago is now 6-8-8.

Nowak was noncommittal on the starter in goal, but it would be a shock if it wasn't Knighton.

"It was a very solid performance from Brad, but it was also a good performance from our backline as well," Nowak said.

Justin Mapp, who was acquired July 27 from Chicago, did in his old teammates by setting up the game's lone goal. In the 36th minute Mapp sent Sebastien Le Toux in on goal and Le Toux finished the breakaway chance for his 11th goal of the season.

Knighton's best save came when he stoned Freddie Ljungberg point-blank from an angle just outside the six-yard line on the right side in the 32d minute.

The Union keeper made four saves, and was also authoritative in punching out crosses that he couldn't catch. Knighton was quick and decisive off his line.

He was also bailed out by his defense in the 65th minute when he came out of the goal, chasing Chicago's Mike Banner, who beat him to the ball. Banner crossed it in, but Union defender Sheanon Williams, making his first start, cleared the ball.

Chicago missed a scoring chance in the 76th minute, when a wide-open Calen Carr headed a cross from Banner over the goal.

The news, however, wasn't all good for the Union.

Nowak said that an initial prognosis showed Union forward Danny Mwanga suffered a separated shoulder in the first minute. Mwanga kept playing until leaving in the 55th minute, and was to be X-rayed Saturday evening, according to a team official.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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