The New England Revolution sent two-time defending U.S. Open Cup finalist Philadelphia Union packing 1-1 (4-2) in penalty kicks in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd at Harvard University’s Jordan Field.
Je-Vaughn Watson followed up his first goal in a Revolution uniform with the clinching penalty kick, while backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton made saves against Sebastien Le Toux and C.J. Sapong to help the Revs advance to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the first time since 2008.
“We switched it there at the end to make (Watson) the fifth kicker and there was no one better and no one more deserving of stepping up to the line tonight,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said.
Lee Nguyen made the Revolution’s first penalty kick, while Chris Tierney and Jose Goncalves also converted from the spot. Scott Caldwell sent his attempt wide left in the third round.
Ilsinho and Fabian Herbers both made their attempts for the Union. The rookie substitute Herbers scored off a pass from Le Toux in the 90th minute to send the game into overtime.
Philadelphia, which is still trophy-less seven years into its MLS existence, had made it to the U.S. Open Cup final the past two years, losing to the Seattle Sounders and then Sporting Kansas City.
“Credit to New England, their guys stepped and hit their PKs and they’re moving on. It’s difficult for us right now,” Union coach Jim Curtin said. “Our locker room is upset. It’s tough. There’s only two trophies you can lift in the country and we’re out of the competition for one of them.”
New England will face the Chicago Fire in the semifinals on August 10, with the host determined by a draw on Thursday morning. The Revs, who have lost in the MLS Cup final five times, have only ever won one major trophy: the U.S. Open Cup in 2007.
The Revolution took the lead on the doorstep of halftime, as Diego Fagundez noticed Watson unmarked left of goal on a free kick at the edge of the box. Fagundez sent a quick pass to Watson, who controlled and then beat Union goalie Andre Blake (7 saves) at the left post from five yards out.
With the Union’s chances of a return to the U.S. Open Cup final looking bleak, Herbers tallied a 90th-minute equalizer on just Philadelphia’s second shot on target of the match.
The Revolution return to MLS play at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday when they host the Fire, while the Union resume the same night on the road against the Montreal Impact.
MAN OF THE MATCH
New England’s Kei Kamara made a big impact as a last-minute injury replacement for Femi Hollinger-Janzen, but he subbed out in the 83rd minute and missed out on a chance to score in the penalty kick shootout. Instead, it was Watson shone the brightest, also performing well defensively on the left side. Watson score on a heads-up play and then later convinced Goncalves to switch spots with him during PKs, allowing the confident Jamaican international to score on his compatriot Blake for the winner.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
With starter Bobby Shuttleworth scuffling this season, Brad Knighton had a chance to impress Heaps and took the bull by the horns. Knighton maybe could have done better on Herbers’ late goal, but he more than made up for it with two penalty kick saves. Knighton’s confident stop on Le Toux’s first round shot sent the Revs in front in the shootout for good. Two rounds later, he followed Caldwell’s miss with another save when Sapong had a chance to tie things back up.
“Any time I can get a game, I’m fortunate, and I’m trying to make the most of an opportunity,” Knighton said. “It was a great result tonight for us.”
MATCH TO FORGET
Curtin was no doubt thinking ahead to the quick turnaround to Saturday’s MLS match when he subbed out Chris Pontius and Roland Alberg in the 66th minute, and Tranquillo Barnetta in the 76th. The truth is that Union offense came alive when some of its normal top playmakers exited. Pontius, in particular, was not up to his usual standard and did not attempt a shot.