Nothing can be more frustrating for a player than seeing his shot save. Not just turned but a spectacular individual effort that turns a sure-fire MLS Goal of the Week nominee shot on target somehow not sitting in the back of he net. That has been the case time and time again for opponents of the Philadelphia Union in 2021 courtesy of Andre Blake.
Blake has had many catch phrases throughout his Union career with "Save By Blake!" echoing in a loop on Union telecasts when the club needed it most. There is no doubt that Blake is not only the best goalkeeper in Major League Soccer but 2021 might have been even better than his 2020 Goalkeeper of the Year resume.
When the referee points to the penalty spot and awards a PK, statistics say that its going to be a goal. Not when you're facing Andre Blake in 2021. The Reggae Boyz captain faced four of these opportunities and only one broke through the brick wall. One! Fellow MLS Goalkeeper of the Year nominees allowed six goals on nine attempts.
Blake hasn't need to put the team on his back like he did last season, the defense around him has gained chemistry and with it less shots have gotten through. When the Union needed Dre in Atlanta, he shut them down with five saves in the first 45 minutes. Season opener at Columbus against the defending MLS Cup Champions, yeah Dre was there to keep the clean sheet. In the second go around against the Crew, Blake again was cool and collected to turn away a PK but moments later deny Darlington Nagbe's upper 90 golazo.
Andre Blake's 2021 season was a special one on the career statistics as well, making his 500th save and collecting his 50th regular season shutout. Along the way he also tied the club record that was held by Zac MacMath for the most shutouts in a single season when he notched his 12th clean sheet on Halloween.
In a defensive matchup like Philly vs. Red Bulls is keen to be, you might only get one really good shot on target. As a matter of fact, that might be Red Bulls game given that their open-play shots are lower quality than any other team in the league with just an average 0.08 xG per open-play shot, which is a smaller xG value than any team in MLS over the past two seasons.
All the adrenaline, the fans and pressure to get a scoring chance. That one chance maybe. Yeah Blake might not be busy but you can count on him being ready for the moment like he's proven to be all season long.
The Union and Red Bulls kick off the
Just two days away from the start of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs that kicks off on Saturday, November 20, with the Philadelphia Union against New York Red Bulls presented by Independence Blue Cross. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 2:30 p.m. ET with the match available locally on PHL17 as well as on Univision, TUDN and MLSSoccer.com.