Je-Vaughn Watson celebrates his goal with New England Revolution fans in the Revs’ 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire in the 2016 US Open Cup Semifinals. Photo: David Silverman | New England Revolution
The New England Revolution advanced to the 2016 US Open Cup Final after a 3-1 win over storied rival the Chicago Fire. Kei Kamara, Je-Vaughn Watson, Teal Bunbury each had a tally on an action-packed night at Gillette Stadium.
The game started quietly without much to speak of during the first 15 minutes. Things would change when referee Edvin Jurisevic pointed to the spot, ruling that Rodrigo Ramos had tripped Kelyn Rowe at the edge of the box. Kamara stepped up to take the kick, putting it past Matt Lampson to give his team a 1-0 lead.
“For sure it was an important moment of the game,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunović said. “For us, it was tough to receive that first goal too early. We have to be honest that we’re a young team and we commit too many innocent mistakes.”
The game opened up from there with both sides having solid looks on goal.
Kei Kamara of the New England Revolution celebrates after a goal against the Chicago Fire in the 2016 US Open Cup Semifinals. Photo: David Silverman | New England Revolution
First, Chris Tierney played a long ball that found Teal Bunbury on the right flank after a deflection from Kamara. Bunbury was unable to put his shot on frame.
The Fire’s response came moments later when John Goossens marched towards goal after Je-Vaughn Watson whiffed his clearance. The ensuing shot was on frame, but Brad Knighton was there to make the stop.
In the 28th minute, Kamara’s pace made a routine back pass interesting when he challenged Lampson. The oblivious goalkeeper’s clearance was blocked by Kamara, but the danger was adverted when the ball went out of bounds instead of going into the back of the net.
Kamara continued to cause the Fire headaches when he won possession in the 32nd minute. The striker then found Bunbury on the right flank but the winger once again failed to put his shot on target.
It was the Fire’s turn to attack in the 35th minute, but Jose Goncalves had consecutive slide tackles that neutralized the threat. The captain first denied an on-rushing Goossens before repeating the action against David Accam.
Accam would do better five minutes later when he grabbed his fifth goal of the tournament. The striker used creative footwork to deceive Watson. With space in front him, Accam hit a low shot to the left of Knighton. With the impressive goal, Accam moved into a tie for first place on the tournament’s goalscoring chart, tying him with La Maquina’s Edwin Borboa.
Watson got his redemption two minutes later when he nodded the ball over the goal line. The chance began with Tierney’s corner, which was won by Kamara. The ball would bounce off a Fire defender before reaching an eager Watson.
“We were talking earlier, me and Steve Neumann, and I said, ‘It’s Chicago, I scored on them last time, so, whatever, I’m going to go for it’,” Watson said. “Before I even tap it in the goal, I said, ‘Oh, my god. It’s a goal again’.”
The Revs had a good chance to add another two minutes later when Tierney identified Rowe on the right side. Rowe’s cross went across the goalmouth but Bunbury and Kamara couldn’t connect.
The Fire didn’t wait long to make an adjustment, as Brandon Vincent replaced Ramos at halftime. Despite the defensive change, the game reminded wide open.
In the 50th minute, Goossens took his third shot of the game but it did little to worry Knighton. The Fire tried again in the 55th minute but Michael de Leeuw failed to take advantage of Arturo Alvarez’s in-swinging cross. Things looked good for the Revs in the 62nd minute as Gershon Koffie put Kelyn Rowe in on goal. Feeling the pressure of the Fire defense, Rowe’s shot missed its mark.
The lull in the game was broken by Bunbury in the 85th minute, who found success with his third shot of the night. The 26-year-old hit a low-driving ball that was just out of Lampson’s reach.
“I think it’s huge,” Bunbury explained. “Chicago was putting some pressure on us. When it gets late into games like that you kind of sit back and hold onto a 2-1 lead, so to extend that and get that third goal was huge for us.”
Emotions boiled up in the 88th minute when Accam and Rowe got into a dispute at midfield. The dust-up resulted in a straight red for Accam and a yellow for Rowe.
Up a man and two goals, the Revs saw out the game to secure their first trip to the Open Cup Final since winning the tournament in 2007. The Revolution will play the winner of Wednesday night’s LA Galaxy-FC Dallas game.