When the Philadelphia Union begin what they hope is a long run in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs against the New England Revolution Tuesday (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info), they’ll do so with the Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year back from injury.
Andre Blake, who missed the club’s final two regular season games with a fractured hand, is “ready to go,” coach Jim Curtin told reporters in a video press conference Monday morning.
“Andre has trained every day in some way, shape or form, but the last three days fully with the handling and really testing the hand and it passed every test so far,” Curtin said. “We’ll still see how he responds to today's training session, but he's ready to go.”
The Union will certainly be bolstered by Blake’s return, but Curtin said it’s important for his team to manage his return from injury the right way.
“We want to try to limit the amount of times New England is in and around what we call the red zone, the dangerous areas of the field, so that will stay the same,” Curtin said. “We know Andre is going to have to make some saves for us — that’s the case in every 90-minute soccer match — there's going to be some big plays from Andre, and we know he can step up and make.
“But certainly yes our defenders, need to be intelligent about how they bring him back into the game for example, it's not smart for a goalkeeper that's just coming off of an injury to roll five or six balls back to his left foot that are bouncing. Just make it as easy as possible, that transition back into gameplay, and certainly Andre has been there before and has made so many big saves for us so we have full confidence in him.”
Curtin will have an almost full squad available for the Round One showdown, the Union’s sixth this season against the Revs. Jack de Vries is in concussion protocol and Olivier Mbaizo, who was on international duty with Cameroon, is in quarantine after having to fly commercial due to what Curtin called an “issue with his green card.”