It was a busy day for the Whitecaps as they added a potential five player to their 2012 MLS roster through a signing, trade and draft. The day started with the signing of former Railhawk goalkeeper Brad Knighton and ended with a trade that brought 2011 NASL MVP, another Railhawk, Etienne Barbara’s rights from the Montreal Impact with a draft sandwiched in between.
While Brad Knighton is coming from the NASL, he has spent the majority of his career in MLS spending time with New England and the expansion Philadelphia Union. His first three seasons, including a short loan with Portland, after college were spent with the Revolution where he saw only six starts in three seasons. He was selected by the Union in the expansion draft but did not see his first action until late in the season and only appeared in eight games.
Knighton was waived by the Union, after they signed a DP goalkeeper and drafted one early in Superdraft, at the end of the season and signed with Carolina. It was his first season since college where he was the clear number one goalkeeper and Knighton didn’t disappoint. In 28 starts he picked up 8 cleansheets with a GAA of .94 and was named to the NASL Best XI and runner-up as top goalie in NASL. Coming to Whitecaps to compete with Joe Cannon, Rennie describes Knighton as having strong distribution, communications skills, and strong on crosses.
The Caps then finished the draft season with the selection of four players from the supplemental draft with the hope finding a diamond in the rough. Their first selection was left back Giener Garcia, an international from the Cruz Azul system in Mexico and followed that up with another defender in Greg Klazura from Notre Dame. The next two picks were goalkeeper Andrew Fontaine from UC Irving and central defender Mark Fetrow from Penn State.
Once the draft was over the Whitecaps were able to flip their first pick, Garcia, to the Montreal Impact for the discovery rights to Etienne Barbara, another former Railhawk. Barbara spent the two previous two seasons with Rennie at Carolina and broke through in the second one with twenty goals and eight assists earning himself the MVP of the NASL.
Before coming to North America, Barbara spent ten of his eleven year in Europe in his native Malta playing for a number of teams. He a spell with a 4th division club in Germany but it was not a successful and was released after one season. While the Whitecaps have only acquired the rights to Barbara it would seem very likely that his name will be put to a contract soon. Rennie feels he has the ability to play as a striker or out wide as a winger bringing pace, power and the ability to create goals for himself and his teammates.