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    Thankful for Andre Blake's rise to stardom with Philadelphia Union

    Larry Henry Jr Avatar
    November 16, 2023

    From attending the Philadelphia Union’s first-ever MLS match at Lincoln Financial Field in 2010 to watching them lift a Supporters’ Shield and reach MLS Cup in recent years, it’s safe to say that the club has played a major role in my life to date.

    I’ve been fortunate to cover many historic events in the club’s history while also watch many top players represent the Union and the city of Philadelphia graciously both on and off the field.

    As we draw ever closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to extend a shoutout to what I am thankful for in my time as a Union soccer writer and what I am sure is high on the list of many fans as well..Andre Blake’s stellar abilities and professionalism.

    Whether the scoreline is in the Union’s favor or not, a game-changing Andre Blake save always seems to be in the plans. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t text a friend, family member, or fellow colleague about a solo effort from Blake that was vital to a victory for the team.

    Blake is in his 10th year as a Union player after being the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2014 MLS Draft. A former Mac Hermann award nominee, Blake excelled at the University of Connecticut before taking his talents to Chester, Pennsylvania.

    After originally serving as the club’s No. 2 option behind Designated Player Rais M’Bohli, Blake eventually became the club’s starter in 2016 and hasn’t looked back.

    A four-time MLS All-Star, three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year winner, and three-time MLS Best XI selection, Blake has not only been one of the best players in Union history, but also in MLS history.

    Aug 3, 2023; Chester, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake (18) in action against D.C. United at Subaru Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    He has totaled 232 league appearances to date, 20,786 league minutes play, 102 league wins, and 73 clean sheets in MLS play, all of which are first in the Union record books. Blake has totaled over 700 saves for the Union and is well-known for his acrobatics in between the posts or making a top save in a clutch moment for the Boys in Blue.

    His 15 clean sheets in 2022 were tied for the second-most in a single season ever by an MLS goalkeeper (Tony Meola had 16 in 2000, Jimmy Nielsen is tied with Blake with 15).

    Without Blake’s production, would the Union have grown into an MLS Cup contender each of the last few seasons? It’s tough to truly say, but hard to argue against the Jamaican’s statistics and his role in being a vocal leader on the field.

    Not only has Blake been one of the best among MLS goalkeepers, but he’s also followed suit on the international level.

    Jun 24, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake (1) kicks the ball against the United States during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

    Blake has earned 71 caps with the Jamaican national team, continuing to be one of the veteran leaders of the bunch. Although he’s only lifted one trophy with the Reggae Boyz (2014 Carribbean Cup), Blake has helped Jamaica remain a competitive nation in CONCACAF heading into the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

    He’s led the Reggae Boyz to the Gold Cup Final twice, being a Best XI selection and a Golden Glove winner in 2017. Could Blake have competed for the No. 1 job with the USMNT if eligible? This journalist certainly thinks so.

    Blake has also always been a pleasure to interview and chat with before and after matches, making time for reporters and media personalities. Cannot remember a time at all in my career where Blake didn’t have time to talk about a performance or match, always praising his teammates and coaches first.

    The 32-year-old is now in the latter stages of his playing career, and although Union fans will surely see him in the team colors through 2024 (contract expires December, 31, 2024), watching his rise to stardom in my own backyard has been pretty awesome to see firsthand.

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