BOSTON – There's something about facing New England that seems to bring out the very best in Andre Blake, a strong sentiment considering how well the MLS All-Star goalkeeper plays against pretty much every other opponent, too.
It was against New England last year where he announced his presence with a spectacular five-save effort in a 1-0 Union loss, and it was only three weeks later when he stopped a club-record ten shots in a 1-1 road draw with the Revs.
On Wednesday night in the US Open Cup quarterfinals, Blake was again pressed into heavy action against the Revolution. But despite his seven electric saves, he was unable to stop the hosts in penalties as the Union were eliminated from the tournament with a crushing 4-2 shootout loss after the game was tied at 1-1 through regulation and extra time.
“I don’t like when he makes saves to be honest, because I feel there’s things we can do to prevent [the shots],” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “At the same time, when we do get broken down, he’s there to bail us out. He’s playing in top form. There’s no surprise that he is an All-Star this year and will be starting against Arsenal. I’m happy for him, obviously. But we can do a better job of preventing so he’s not so busy.”
Late in the first half, the Revolution caught the Union napping on a quick free kick that sent Je-Vaughn Watson free on the left side of the box and allowed him to beat Blake to the far post.
But that would be all New England could manage to get by the Philadelphia ’keeper in regulation and extra time, with Revolution coach Jay Heaps later saying that Blake "kept them in it."
And while each stop made by Blake seemed better than the last, there was none better than the remarkable double save he pulled off in extra time. With the entire goal left wide open after he stopped an Andrew Farrell blast, the Union ‘keeper came diving back into the picture to get a right glove on Kelyn Rowe’s rebound attempt and extend the evening to penalty kicks.
“He’s good at soccer, I think that’s clear,” said Curtin. “He’s a great goalkeeper. You see it week in and week out, he’s special. He can make a great save that can win you a game.”