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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Breaking: Union trade for No. 1, take Blake

PHILADELPHIA – The fans of the Philadelphia Union made their presence known at the Philadelphia Convention Center from the moment they filed in Thursday morning.

Once the 2014 MLS SuperDraft festivities begun, their club announced its intention to put a similarly emphatic stamp on the draft.

The Union traded up from No. 2 for the first overall draft pick, taking goalkeeper Andre Blake from the University of Connecticut.

Terms of the trade with D.C. United were not disclosed, but the two teams swapped picks No. 1 and 2 with the Union sending allocation money to D.C. D.C. picked defender Steve Birnbaum of the University of California with the No. 2 pick. The deal is not related to their swap of Jeff Parke and Ethan White on Tuesday.

In Blake, the club got a player about as surprised to be the number one pick as many people were to see the Union vault into No. 1.

“Words can’t explain it. I didn’t see it coming,” Blake said. “It’s just a great feeling. … It’s a great honor. It’s definitely a lot of pressure on me because I’m number one, but I’m just going to work hard.”

The 6-4 goalkeeper from Jamaica who came out after his junior year with the Huskies is seen as one of the best goalkeeping talent in some years. He is one of the only goalkeepers rated as a first round talent.

Though he’ll take some time to develop, he is a member of Generation Adidas, which defrays some of the cost of his salary for the first few years based on his contribution on the field.

He’s not seen as a starting goalkeeper yet, giving him time to study under starter Zac MacMath. And potentially push him in the future.

He’s fine with that arrangement for now.
“Everyone wants to be the starting goalie, so for me, I’m just going to go in and take it one step at time, go and earn my respect just work as hard as I can,” Blake said.

As far as the prospect of coming to Philly, it’s not something Blake has thought much about before today.

“Based on what I just heard, I got a warm welcome (from the fans), so I’m looking forward to getting their support,” Blake said. “… I don’t know much about Philly. I read something the other day about the best place to get a cheesesteak.”

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