New England Soccer Today

Blake Helps Union Thwart Revs Again

Photo credit:  Paul Rudderow/Philly Soccer Page

Photo credit: Paul Rudderow/Philly Soccer Page

For the second straight occasion, the Revolution were denied a victory by the Union on Sunday thanks to a sound defensive effort that included former University of Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The former first overall pick made two saves and helped organize a backline short on experience during Sunday’s 3-0 win, a performance that helped Philadelphia earn a share of first-place in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s definitely important,” Blake told the media after Sunday’s match. “You know, I told the guys before if we’re going to make a run, it’s going to start in the back. So it’s not just the back four, but the entire team. We have to defend as a team, attack as a team, and that’s something we’re looking to build on.”

The Jamaican international, who collected a club-record 10 saves the last time he faced the Revolution in Sept. 2015, was also effective in his distribution on Sunday. His 73.9 passing accuracy number was more than seven percentage points better than his counterpart Bobby Shuttleworth.

While the personal stats and scoreline were positives for the third-year keeper, perhaps the biggest talking point surrounding Blake on Sunday was about a shot he wasn’t able to stop.

In the 35th minute, Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen blasted a free kick from 25-yards that rocketed past the dive of the Union keeper. Fortunately for Philadelphia, the ball smacked off the left post, then caromed off the right post a split-second later before it gently rolled into the arms of Blake, who was still on the ground from his initial attempt to stop it.

“Well, people normally say you’re lucky when you hit the post,” Blake said. “But for me, I don’t really think that way because the post is not inside the goal – it’s more like the ball hit the post and goes in – so you know it’s not like it even saves you if it hits the post and doesn’t go in. It’s just what it is but I’m thankful for it not going in.”

While some would indeed call it luck that Nguyen somehow managed to hit both posts without the shot falling through, it’s clear that Blake is a believer in the credo that fortune favors the prepared.

“Sometimes, you also create your luck,” Blake said. “I think the guys have been working really hard weekly. We’re all locked in, and believe in what we’re doing, and believe there is a God, so yeah.”

Blake may not have been nearly as busy as he was the last time he faced New England, but Union coach Jim Curtin was certainly pleased with what he’s seen from his young keeper, who was called up by the Jamaican National Team prior to Sunday’s contest.

“Can’t say enough, he is playing very well,” Curtin told the media after the match. “He’s confident, he is a confident young goalkeeper. We’re happy with the six points that we have. Andre is a big part of that. He gives us a guy that can win us a game.”

Although Blake endured some punishment as a result of a few physical challenges from Revolution striker Juan Agudelo in the latter stages, it didn’t stop him from savoring his second straight win of the young season.

“It was great,” Blake said. “As defenders, as a goalkeeper, when your striker can get you goals it takes a lot of pressure off us and that’s great. So hopefully we can keep doing our job and the strikers can keep doing their job also.”

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