2016 Summary: 2015 marked the end of the Nick Sakiewicz era, and with it the goalie-go-round where the Philadelphia Union blew through fifteen goalkeepers. 2016 was the year that the starting goalkeeper would be Jamaican international Andre Blake. There were a few at the beginning of the season who questioned Blake’s readiness to be the clear number one for an entire MLS season.
Blake answered those questions loudly and clearly. He was named starting goalkeeper for the MLS All-Stars as they took on Arsenal, allowing one goal - a penalty - in the 45 minutes he played. On a Union team that got progressively worse on defense as the season went on, Blake posted a 1.56 goals against average - conceding 50 in 32 games. Blake is shortlisted - and is odds-on favorite to win - MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
What did he do right?: Blake kept the Union in games they shouldn’t have been in, helped win games they should have lost, and only missed two games - both due to representing Jamaica in the Copa America tournament. Perhaps most importantly, he gave the Union (front office, coaching staff, and fans alike) confidence that the goalkeeper position was secure with him - something the Union hadn’t had since 2011.
What did he do wrong?: Not much. Of course there were goals I’m sure he’d want back, but there were no gaffes of M’Bolhian proportions.
Most memorable moment of 2016: There were a lot of them, but for my money there wasn’t a much bigger save on a bigger stage than the fingertip save on Mohamed Elneny in the All-Star Game.
#SavesByDre has reached new heights making @SportsCenter number ☝️ play for last night! pic.twitter.com/TjR9byMUbT— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) July 29, 2016