At the end of 2019, Andre Blake’s top goal was to return to his top form that made him one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. As 2020 comes to an end, it is clear that Blake accomplished that goal.
It started when Blake returned home to Jamaica and after a short break from soccer the goalkeeper put pen to paper on his goals for the upcoming season.
After doing so, Blake reached out to goalkeeper coach Phil Wheddon and the two formed an offseason plan to help the keeper reach the highest level that Blake strives for each time he takes to the pitch. He returned to Philadelphia earlier than he had ever done to begin preseason training alone and hone his craft. That offseason dedication saw Blake become the fifth goalkeeper on MLS history to win a second Goalkeeper of the Year Award.
While Union fans have known Blake’s prowess in net since the end of the 2015 season, his 2020 season has been even more impressive you could argue than his previous Goalkeeper of the Year campaign. Blake that season made 99 saves in 32 matches racking up six clean sheets. In 2020, in just 21 regular season games he held opposing offenses to zero goals on eight separate occasions, allowed just 18 goals while making 63 saves. If 2020 had been normal you’d see a pace of 96 saves, 12 shut outs and only 27 goals against. In case you’re curious that would be 23 less than he had in his award-winning season.
Blake’s impact was clearly seen by the entire country and the world during the MLS is Back Tournament. From a 7-save shutout including a last-minute clinching stop against New York City FC to open the tournament, Blake racked up 32 saves in Orlando. And they weren’t easy ones as 19 of the 32 saves came from shots inside the penalty area. That shot stopping was critical according to Head Coach Jim Curtin.
“If we don’t have Andre, early making the big saves for us when we were in Orlando does this team grow and blossom the way it does over the course of the year,” Curtin said. “I don’t know and I don’t have an answer for that. We needed him to carry us for moments early in the season. As our team and defense improved, he has had maybe a little less to do over the end of the season. He bounced back I thought incredibly well from a season last year where he was good but not great and Andre holds himself to such a high standard that he is only satisfied when he is great. For him to win goalkeeper of the year in the biggest landslide of all the awards by far speaks to how good and how important he’s been to our team.”
Blake continues to prove why he was the first goalkeeper taken with the No. 1 overall pick of the MLS SuperDraft. And with the Boys in Blue winning the Supporters’ Shield be the Jamaican International became the fifth No. 1 selection to win a league trophy with the club that selected him.