The Union will be without starting goal keeper Andre Blake for at least two more MLS matches while Steel FC will miss 19-year old center back Jamoi Topey as both are set to play with Jamaica Sunday in the first of two Gold Cup matches in Philadelphia.
2019 has been shaping up rather nicely for the Jamaican duo of Andre Blake and Jamoi Topey so far.
Topey signed with Bethlehem Steel FC back on March 1st and since he’s earned a consistent starting role (minus some injury time) under Head Coach Brendan Burke. He’s also become a member of the Jamaican National Senior Team for the first time ever as a back-up defender.
Just a year ago, Topey broke through the Jamaican ranks by scoring four goals, with an assist to boot, and starting in all five of the Reggae Boyz matches during the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Now, Topey can gain crucial international experience as a regular member of Jamaica’s matchday 18.
Meanwhile, Blake battled through an early injury to earn his second MLS All-Star nod while carrying Jamaica through the early stages of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Blake’s stretch of stellar goalkeeping began prior to the Gold Cup when he recorded a shutout against the USMNT on June 5th.
Blake has made a solid three tallied saves while disrupting plays routinely by coming off his line as usual. Through the first three matches, he’s earned one clean sheet while being robbed of a second in his last match against Curacao. Unfortunately for Blake, but very fortunate for Curacao, Juriën Gaari ripped a 25-yard blast that beat Blake in the 93rd minute granting the fellow Caribbean nation a shocking quarter-final appearance in Philadelphia as well.
So far, Jamaica haven’t really found their stride offensively with just three goals scored. However, their defense has been stingy (barring the final minute dagger from Gaari). They’ll hope Shamar Nicholson will find some momentum after scoring in their last match while Blake will need to continue being the steady veteran between the post he has become.
This weekend is a great one for Philadelphia soccer. It’s also a chance for Philly soccer fans to enjoy some international soccer as well. Not only will the Union’s most-dependable and only two-time MLS All-Star in franchise history be on display against Panama Sunday, the city will be able to showcase the best stadium in town, Lincoln Financial Field.
Jamaica kicks-off the action with a 5:30PM match against a very physical Panama team in the first of two quarter-final match-ups. The second match features the USMNT, a team with both high expectations and loads of pressure, when they face off against a Curacao team still reeling from their heroic equalizer Tuesday.
Be sure to tune in Sunday evening as Philadelphia plays host to some of North America’s best soccer.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports