Home Featured Knighton leaves RailHawks for Whitecaps… so, what about Barbara?

Knighton leaves RailHawks for Whitecaps… so, what about Barbara?

Etienne Barbara
In a move that has been expected for weeks, the Vancouver Whitecaps have inked goalkeeper Brad Knighton.

Knighton, who spent last season with the Carolina RailHawks, was named to the NASL Best XI and finished second to Montreal’s Evan Bush for the Golden Glove Award (don’t ask us how Knighton finished ahead of Bush for the All-Star team but behind Bush for the individual goalkeeping honour). He will be reunited with former RailHawks coach Martin Rennie and midfielder Matt Watson in Vancouver.

“Brad is a solid goalkeeper with strong communication and distribution skills, is excellent on crosses, and brings four years of MLS experience,” said Whitecaps coach, Rennie, in a release. “Brad had a outstanding season last year with me in Carolina and now I look forward to seeing him provide healthy competition between the posts here in Vancouver.”

And, as the RailHawks exodus continues, the question has to be asked: What about Etienne Barbara? In a candid interview with IMSoccer last week (CLICK), Barbara, the NASL’s leading scorer and MVP, said he isn’t happy with the contract he’s been offered by Montreal.

The Impact has a Discovery claim in on Barbara, so that’s the only MLS club with which he can negotiate. The deal that the Impact offered is believed to be a basic entry-level deal.

Barbara may want an improved offer, but the Impact might not be able to do that, even if sporting director Nick De Santis and coach Jesse Marsch wanted to. Remember that the contract has to be cleared by MLS, which still has central control over the deals that are made. It’s doubtful that MLS would want a team setting a precedent by overpaying for an NASL player who has never played at the MLS level, no matter how good his numbers were in Division 2.

So Barbara could go back and try to look for work in the NASL. But he might find that to be more difficult than he thinks. He might find a lot of NASL GMs will respect Montreal’s Discovery claim — that they won’t try to bring him under contract. After all, the Impact is an old NASL club, and offers a good chance for the current NASL clubs to get players on loan.

And, after all, Barbara did spend about half of last season talking about how badly he wanted to move to MLS.

“I came here with the intention of not staying in this league,” Barbara told The 11’s Mike Wyman after a game in Montreal. “Although I love playing in Carolina my aim is always to play in a higher league. I hope to make an impact because I want to play in MLS.”

So, Barbara’s bluster could keep him away from North American teams, unless he swallows his pride and takes what Montreal has put on the table.


Impact narrows search for MLS coach, says it has right of first refusal on current NASL players (CLICK)
Barbara continues his push for MLS attention with two-goal performance against Impact (CLICK)

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