It's Andre Blake's world, and we're just living in it. The former UConn standout and #1 overall Superdraft pick shone bright like a star preserving a 1-1 draw for a team that did little else to deserve it on the road against New England Revolution.
The Philadelphia Union went into Gillette Stadium expecting little if their starting line-up was any indication. They lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 but Jim Curtin chose to "bench" "starter" John McCarthy in favor of "back-up" Andre Blake. But what Curtin likely forgot and/or did not (does not) realize is if this whole game was nothing more than resting critical players for the USOC Final he started the best goalkeeper on the Union roster.
But that's not the only change Curtin made. Curtin inserted Andrew Wenger at right back. No, seriously, that's not a typo. Andrew Wenger played right back. Yes, that Andrew Wenger. Him along with Fabinho, Ethan White, and Steven Vitoria formed the Union backline. Really. Curtin also gave Warren Creavalle a start in the midfield along with Brian Carroll. Zach Pfeffer, Cristian Maidana, and Eric Ayuk formed the attack with Fernando Aristeguieta getting the start as forward.
The Philadelphia Union attack did very little in the first half, registering only two shots, none of which threatened Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Unfortunately for the Union, the Revs were able to find some attacking prowess and were able to draw a penalty call from it. Fabinho tripped up Lee Nguyen at the edge of the box, and Nguyen took to the spot himself to convert the opportunity. Blake dove the right away, but it was not enough to stop the shot and the Revs found themselves enjoying a 1-0 first half lead against a punchless union attack.
The second half came around, the Union were given one chance, and they pounced on it. Creavalle got the ball to Aristeguieta inside the box, and Nando took it away from there. He turned the ball around brilliantly and set a sublime shot on goal which Shuttleworth had zero chance of stopping. The Union may not have done much in the previous 64 minutes to warrant such a goal, but they got one opportunity and Aristeguieta took full advantage of it much to the pleasure of Union fans.
From then on out, the Revolution pressed and pressed the Union defense registering shot after shot many of which were in fact on target. But each time a shot was presented on target, Andre Blake was there. Blake made numerous stops ranging from diving saves to set piece grabs to this astounding point blank save off Juan Agudelo (h/t @LocksTheFox via reddit) setting a Union franchise record for most saves in a single match.
With the U.S. Open Cup Final coming up on Wednesday, Blake certainly earned his spot as Union starting goalkeeper. Given Blake's current form and abilities, starting John McCarthy for the big match is a decision that would best be classified as silly. Blake is the Union's best goalkeeper on the roster and possibly in their history, and benching him for McCarthy would be an unforgivable offense regardless of how the match might turn out.
A draw against the Revolution all but mathematically eliminated the Union from MLS Playoff contention, but based off the way Curtin played this match his attention is almost certainly on the USOC Final this Wednesday at PPL Park. It's time to bring home the Union's first ever piece of hardware.