I don’t know when, but certainly sometime in the near future, I won’t be able to include goalkeepers Matt Turner and Andre Blake in this preview.
The outstanding New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union netminders are drawing the attention of teams overseas and could see a transfer as soon as this winter. Andre Blake, of course the top overall pick out of the University of Connecticut and Matt Turner, undrafted rookie free agent from Fairfield University have taken slightly different paths to these potential European moves.
Blake was a top prospect and standout with not only the Huskies but also quickly became the #1 keeper for the Jamaican MNT while Turner was a surprise starter for the Revs under Brad Friedel in 2018 and quickly rose to one of the best in the league and a USMNT camp callup.
But both keepers are not long for this league, and Blake certainly could command attention of a team in the European Champions or Europa League sooner rather than later. The Revs have not been big on selling players abroad in their history but if they start fielding seven-figure offers for Turner, I’d expect a transfer to happen rather than letting another player leave for nothing. Either way, both moves would be good for the league and for their respective clubs and hopefully give more weight to the college game and SuperDraft even as MLS changes their development of younger players through academies and USL level teams.
Anyway, even though it seems like we talked to our friends at Brotherly Game like yesterday or something, Jim Baldwin is here to talk about the Union’s semifinal run and his love of the UConn Huskies. Or at least their former keeper.
TBM: A semi-final loss to eventual MLS is BACK champions Portland Timbers isn’t a bad way to bow out, what is the general feeling of the Union’s overall performance in the tournament?
JB: The loss to Portland in the semifinals was tough, mostly because the Union played really well throughout the tournament. Going into the tournament, this team was viewed as solid but not spectacular. However, the starting lineup was able to get the job done game after game to make a deep run into the semifinals. Throughout the tournament this team showed an ability to grind out wins, and do what was needed to survive and advance. Most of this was made possible by superstar Andre Blake, who carried the team through the tournament by making save after save. Head Coach Jim Curtin consistently named the same starting lineup each game, and the results paid off. This group grew together throughout the MLS is Back tournament, and Brenden Aaronson was able to show why teams in Europe are lining up for his signature.
TBM: Not counting Andre Blake, who was the best player for the Union in the tournament or a player that stood out?
JB: Andre Blake was without a doubt the MVP for the Union. Aside from him, Jose Martinez showed he is the perfect fit at CDM for the Union. A more defensive option for this role, he operates as a third CB when needed. With a fairly new CB pairing of McKenzie & Elliott, Martinez reduced the pressure opposing teams put on the backline. He is almost guaranteed a yellow card each game due to his aggressive style, but aside from that he does not have too many weaknesses to be concerned about. One other player that deserves recognition is Bedoya. He was tasked to be the creative influence on the right when the Union were attacking, and really rose to the challenge. He was always in the right spot, at the right time, and scored some decisive goals to ensure this team had a deep run in the tournament.
TBM: Okay, there’s no question but as always, you can gush about the legendary UConn Husky known as Andre Blake.
JB: Glady! Blake is an absolute beast in goal. His ability to make clutch saves when a goal seems inevitable highlights how crucial he is to this team. As mentioned before, he has a young CB pairing in front of him which leads to a lot of chances on goal for opponents. There are not enough superlatives in the world to describe how amazing he can be in goal. I’ll throw in a few more just to be safe though. First name on the starting lineup. Brick wall. Cat-like reflexes. Generic goalkeeper cliche. I could go on, but Blake would probably save me from myself here and end it now.
Starting lineup prediction: Blake, Gaddis, Elliott, McKenzie, Wagner, Bedoya, Martinez, Monteiro, Aaronson, Przybylko, Santos.
I think this will be a close game, but the Union come out of it with a 2-1 win.