Most people would shy away from the idea of being the fifth penalty kick taker in a tournament quarterfinal but Je-Vaughn Watson isn't most people.
With the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union tied 1-1 after 120 minutes, PKs would decide which team would advance in the US Open Cup. It's a daunting scenario that puts a lot of pressure on the kickers. Those who accept the challenge must wait in anticipation before finally making the long walk to the spot. Once there, the player stares down the opposing keeper as the fans scream in angst. The ensuing kick is either rewarded with glory or punished with disappointment.
While many would crumble under this pressure, Watson thrives. Watson, who scored during regular time, was originally slated to kick fourth but switched to the fifth because of his confidence.
"It was a discussion and it was more about feeling," Jay Heaps explained. "I think Je-Vaughn was really up for the moment. You never know what's going to happen with that fifth kick. It was a discussion about who felt a little more comfortable between Je-Vaughn and Jose [Goncalves] and Je-Vaughn really wanted it."
Going fifth ultimately put Watson in a spot where he could seal a trip to the semifinals with a goal. The task was especially difficult because he was facing MLS All-Star Andre Blake. The two players know each other well because they're teammates on the Jamaican National Team. A testament to his confidence, Watson was sure that he had the advantage going into the faceoff.
"I'm going there to just score," Watson said. "I don't know what [Blake's] thinking about but I'm going there to score. It was all up to me to win the game there. At the end of the day, I have the advantage over him, so I just go there and execute."
Watson's penalty was just as calm as you'd expect. The 32-year-old sauntered towards the spot and took the ball from the referee, giving it a kiss before setting it down. After completing a stutter step while making his approach, Watson shot to his left to beat Blake. The moment made Watson a hero of the game.
You'd think that a player would be satisfied after finding the back of the net twice in one match, let alone a tournament quarterfinal. Watson wants more than that, however, because he wants a championship.
I'm here to win trophies," Watson stated. "That's why I came to New England because it's a good team and I want to win trophies."