The Colorado Rapids suffered a disappointing 4-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders on the weekend, but the half-time introduction of newcomer Zat Knight helped soften the blow.
After making his long-awaited Colorado Rapids debut on the weekend, Zat Knight’s 45-minute outing in the 4-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders earned him positive reviews from both his head coach and his teammates.
Having left Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer this summer, the towering centre-back reached an agreement to join the MLS club last month, following a successful trial, but was forced to wait for his P1 visa before the move could become official.
Entering the game at half-time with the home side 3-1 down, Knight could do little to resurrect deficit but did fill a gaping leadership void along the back-line to help stifle the league-leaders’ high-powered attack, with his vocal presence drawing praise from boss Pablo Mastroeni.
‘Zat brought a bit of calm and a bit of experience to the group, and that was pretty evident with the way things went,’ Mastroeni told the club’s official website. ‘But when you’re down 3-1, it’s too late for that. So how do you rebound with the right mindset?’
Goalkeeper Clint Irwin echoed those sentiments, adding: ‘It definitely helped a lot; you could see we were just a lot more organized.
‘He was talking to everyone around him, keeping them in good spots, and at the same time playing well. He made a huge difference as soon as he came on.’
The Rapids’ defence has suffered a severe decline since the season-ending ACL tear to captain Drew Moor in August, with the club conceding 34 goals over the past 11-game winless streak.
Eliminated from post-season contention on the weekend, the remaining three matches might look meaningless to some but, for Knight, each fixture presents a chance to prove his worth to the team.
Without a guaranteed contract for 2015, an impressive end to the season could see him earn a return, but the former England international isn’t speaking about a future in Colorado for the moment.
‘Hopefully next season they [the Rapids] can recruit one or two to help them, because I feel like they have got some good players in there,’ he said.
‘When you go on a winless-streak like they have your confidence is going to be down but they’ve got a good spirit here, which everybody spoke about, and they’re trying.
‘They’ve got a young team and it would be nice for them to have one or two more experienced players around to help them through.
‘The last team I left I was captain there. I was captain at Fulham, I’m experienced, and I’ve learned as a defender that you have to be vocal. For now, though, I’m just trying to pass that down.’