2017 Union Year in Review: Andre Blake

When the 2016 season ended, Andre Blake was named Goalkeeper of the Year and set many career marks in his first full season as the Union's starting goalkeeper. 

Just a year later, he broke those records and made an even better case for Goalkeeper of the Year. 

Blake entered the 2017 season once again as the Union's starter, and kicked off the season with a clean sheet on the road at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. He returned home and started against Toronto FC, where he kept Sebastian Giovinco off the scoresheet and earned the Union's first points of the season in the 2-2 draw. 

Against LA Galaxy in April, Blake registered his 10th career shutout and second of the season in the 0-0 draw. One match later, he earned his first win of the season, a 3-0 victory against rivals New York Red Bulls. That victory sparked a four-game win streak for the Union, and Blake was in net for all of them.

Blake's clean sheet against LA Galaxy also started a four-game shutout streak, which stands as the longest streak in Union history, as well as Blake's career. In terms of minutes, Blake's 378 without allowing a goal was the second longest in team history. 

Blake earned his sixth shutout of the season in the Union's win against DC United, which tied his career high. He didn't have to wait long to set a new record, as his seventh clean sheet came in the Union's very next game. Blake was then called up to the Reggae Boyz for the 2017 Gold Cup.

At the Gold Cup, Blake showed not only was he one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, but also one of the best in the world. In the group stage, Blake backstopped the Jamaican national team to a win and two draws, which put them through into the knockout round. Blake earned two clean sheets and only allowed one goal in the entire group stage, which was the lowest goals against total in the tournament. 

In the knockout stage, Blake continued his form, as he shutout Mexico for the second time in the tournament in the semifinals, which set the stage for a championship match against the USMNT. 

In the Gold Cup Championship, Blake was performing well, but suffered a hand injury in the first half, which knocked him out of the game. Even with the injury, Blake still earned the tournament's Golden Gloves, and was a prime candidate for the Golden Ball. 

Due to his hand injury, Blake missed four matches for the Union, but reclaimed his starting role against Toronto FC after missing eight MLS matches. 

Blake closed out his 2017 season with nine consecutive starts. He continued to build on his shutout record, recording his eighth and ninth of the season during that stretch. 

In 2017, Blake built off his already impressive 2016 season and showed why he's one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He set a career-high in clean sheets with nine, had a career-best .700 save percentage and a 1.31 goals against average, the lowest of his career. He played the most international games of his career during the 2017 calendar year, and won his first international trophy in the Golden Gloves. His .700 save percentage set a franchise record for a single season, his nine shutouts rank second, and his 1.31 goals-against average is third. Blake finished the season with 88 saves, second-most in his career, but averaged 3.38 saves a game, the highest in his career. 

Blake will look to once again improve on his numbers for the 2018 season. Union fans are already treated to his highlight reel saves game in and game out, and there's no reason to believe he can't replicate that again. Blake is a cornerstone of the Union franchise, and will continue to be in the year ahead. 

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