The New England Revolution advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup after defeating the Philadelphia Union in penalty kicks. So, what did we learn from Wednesday’s win? Let’s take a look.
1. Je-Vaughn Watson is a stud. The Revs added Watson only days before the season began in a move that couldn’t be predicted. Originally playing as the team’s right back, the former FC Dallas man has filled in along the backline and in the midfield. More than a just a utility player, Watson has been solid at every position he plays. Does he go rogue sometimes and commit unnecessary fouls? Sure, but that’s the beauty of Watson. He has an undeniable passion for winning. On Wednesday, Watson scored in regular time on a play he designed on the fly after noticing that Philadelphia wasn’t marking quick enough. Watson would later step up and accept the role of fifth penalty taker after others shied away from the pressure. The Jamaican calmly finished his chance, helping the Revs move one step closer to lifting a trophy.
2. BIG SAVE BRAD. Wednesday was quite the night for goalkeepers, as Andre Blake and Brad Knighton made several huge stops. Knighton was particularly impressive because he was subjected to chants like "Union reject" from the traveling Philadelphia supporters. Post-game, Knighton brushed it off, saying that it’s all white noise to him. In the end, Knighton had the last laugh, as he made two beautiful saves to secure the victory. Also deserving of some credit is team analyst Tim Crawford, who prepared a scouting report on Union players.
3. Samba settled in nicely. We haven’t seen much of Samba and the stuff we have seen hasn’t been particularly impressive. On Wednesday, the Sporting CP loanee started alongside Jose Goncalves. While he still looked shaky when it came to aerial duels, Samba put in a fine performance overall, showing some good physicality and poise. We also got a glimpse at Samba’s speed when he was forced to chase down a Union attacker. Samba’s night wasn’t as strong as Watson’s or Knighton’s but it was much improved from what we’ve seen in the past.