BOSTON – As Andre Blake was positioning himself between the pipes for the first round of penalty kicks at the end of Wednesday’s dramatic US Open Cup quarterfinal game, New England Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton was off to the right of the goal, intently looking at a sheet.
As the Philadelphia Union winger came up on the ball, Knighton dove to his left and stopped the shot, then rose to his feet with a defiant look in his eye that was certainly earned on a night he lifted the Revs into the US Open Cup semifinals with a big-time shootout performance.
“There’s no pressure on me,” said Knighton of the penalty-kick round that came in the wake of a 1-1 draw after regulation and overtime periods. “All the pressure is on them. If I can save one or two, then I’ve done my job.”
The sheet in question featured heavily researched information on the Union players’ tendencies when it came to stepping up to the spot – and it paid off in a big way.
Although Ilsinho was able to slot one past Knighton in round two, C.J. Sapong would not be so lucky in round three as the New England ’keeper again came up with a big stop, going to his right and, in the process, putting the Revs in the driver’s seat to win 4-2 on penalties.
“We do a lot of research and we have [team analyst] Tim Crawford, we break down every penalty kick that any opposing team takes,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “We try to give our ’keeper the best information we have on penalty kicks. Tonight, he went against one of his best friends in Le Toux and he read it. Brad also had a huge night.”
“Our statistician Tim does a very good job of getting us the footage and plots of where guys go,” Knighton added. “It was just a matter of taking a look at that and knowing where guys go and making a save or two in the shootout.”
Those two PK saves came on the heels of a strong evening for Knighton who came up with four key saves while the clock was running, including a point blank effort from Leo Fernandes in extra time.
“I knew it was going to be a good day today,” Knighton said. “I woke up and went for a walk and ended up finding Pikachu. I knew it was going to be a good night and ultimately it was.”