Penalty kick shootouts generally turn into a battle of the goalkeepers. After 120 minutes of dazzling saves, Brad Knighton of the New England Revolution came out the winner, leading his team to a 4-2 penalty kick victory over the Philadelphia Union.
After making four saves en route to a 1-1 tie after 120 minutes, Knighton turned it on during penalty kicks. He stopped two of the Union’s four attempts, while his Revolution teammates only missed one.
The victory sends the Revolution to the US Open Cup semifinals for the first time since 2008 as they will play the Chicago Fire. The Union were looking to play in their third straight Open Cup final and fourth semifinal in five years.
New England and Philadelphia were meeting for the second-ever time in Open Cup play. The first matchup also came at the quarterfinal stage, with the Union winning 2-0 in 2014. That game was played in Philadelphia’s home stadium; this one was played at Harvard University.
Playing US Open Cup games away from their home at Gillette Stadium is nothing new for the Revs. Midweek Open Cup crowds are tough to justify the cost of opening the nearly 70,000-seat NFL stadium, so the team often finds locations in and around New England to host their cup matches. This was the club’s third trip to Harvard.
Harvard’s turf field seemed to give both teams some trouble, with the first good chance not coming until a powerful shot from the Revolution’s Kei Kamara in the 27th minute, saved well by Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
However, Blake could not do anything about the goal the Revs scored in the 44th minute. Diego Fagundez quickly took a free kick, and an unorganized Union defense left Je-Vaughn Watson wide open to easily slot the ball past Blake to give the Revolution the 1-0 lead.
Knighton and Blake stood strong and blocked away plenty of good chances in the second half. But just when it seemed as if New England had the game sewn up, the Union equalized at the stroke of 90 minutes.
Ray Gaddis made a run down the right side and passed it into the box to Sebastian Le Toux. The Open Cup’s modern era leading goalscorer, Le Toux set up Fabian Herbers for his first Open Cup goal to tie the game.
In the 104th minute, the crossbar helped Knighton out by stopping Ilsinho’s shot. A minute later, Blake made a spectacular double save that kept the game level. Not to be outdone, Knighton stopped a Herbers shot in the 110th minute that seemed destined for the net. At the end of extra time, the game was tied at one. Knighton had four saves and Blake had seven.
Knighton was stellar in penalty kicks, saving the first shot he faced against Le Toux and the third shot against CJ Sapong. Blake had no answers, and Watson bagged the final goal to keep the Revolution alive for its first Open Cup title since 2007.
FULL MATCH REPLAY: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION VS. PHILADELPHIA UNION