Andre Blake returns to Union training, hopeful to start in Matchday 6.

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

After missing the last three games due to a grade-1 adductor strain suffered on March 11th against Chicago Fire, Union keeper Andre Blake could return to the lineup this Saturday night as the Blue and Gold square off against a struggling Sporting Kansas City side at Subaru Park.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union struggle without their #1

3 time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake left the contest against Chicago midway through the first half after taking a free kick from outside the penalty area and immediately reaching for his leg.  Blake hobbled back to the net with the ball still in play and in Chicago’s possession and recovered just in time to make a save on a header from former Philly striker Kacper Przybylko to keep the game scoreless.  Union backup Joe Bendik has been in the net for Philadelphia since Blake left the match on March 11th. 

A groin injury in which severity can fluctuate has left Union fans a bit anxious for their #1 keeper’s return, losing 2 of the 3 games Joe Bendik has started in Blake’s absence.  One of those losses was the first Philadelphia has suffered at home in the regular season dating back to September 2021. September of 2021 also marks the last time Philly has lost back-to-back regular season matches.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Hopeful return to action for 3-time MLS Keeper of the Year

But nerves of the Blue and Gold were eased on Wednesday afternoon as head coach Jim Curtin took the stand for his midweek press conference and provided a positive update on the team’s goalkeeper heading into the weekend.

“All signs are pointing to a positive return for Andre to the group on the weekend”

Head coach Jim Curtin

Jim Curtin has been transparent about the importance that Blake plays in Union’s success over the last few years and was sure to reiterate that on Wednesday.

“He’s the best goalkeeper that our league has, and we’re stronger with him in the group.”

Jim Curtin

Dating back to the 2020 season, in 84 MLS regular season starts Andre Blake has a record of 46 Wins, 23 draws, and just 15 losses, recording clean sheets in 35 of those matches.  Blake’s return to the lineup on Saturday would be comforting for Union fans and should provide a positive jolt for the team, especially with the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarter Finals against Atlas FC on Tuesday, April 4th at Subaru Park. 

But before Philly can look ahead to Atlas, they’ll need a bounce-back performance to avoid losing 3 straight MLS regular season games since May and June of 2017, and their second consecutive league loss at home since 2021.

HARRISON, NJ – SEPTEMBER 03: Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake (18) and Philadelphia Union defender Jakob Glesnes (5) during the Major League Soccer game between the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union on September 3, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Will Blake be back?

Though Union’s start to the season has been deemed disappointing by many thus far, Sporting Kansas City finds itself in a deeper hole, still searching for their first win of the season, and only scoring 2 goals across the first 5 contests. 

If Andre Blake is ready to go, Saturday night at Subaru Park could be an excellent opportunity for Union to right their wrongs and really push on toward the season we all were hoping they’d have in 2023.  Be sure to catch the action and Andre Blake’s hopeful return against SKC on Saturday night at 7:30 pm est on Apple TV.

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union & Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire