PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Union pulled a last-minute surprise to kick off the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday, trading up in the draft to make Andre Blake the first-ever goalkeeper taken first overall in the league’s history.
The Union – who also held the top pick as an expansion franchise in 2010 – swapped the second overall pick and an undisclosed amount of allocation money to D.C. United for the pick.
A Jamaican youth international, the 6-foot-4 Blake was impressive at last week’s MLS Player Combine in Florida after a junior season with the Huskies that saw him win the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year award and win his third consecutive nod to the NSCAA All-American team. He allowed just 15 goals in 20 matches last season while leading the team to the Elite 8 for the third straight year.
Blake was also named this year’s Generation adidas class, which means his salary will not count against Philadelphia's cap until he graduates from the program.
The last time a goalkeeper was taken among the top three picks overall was in 2005, when Chivas USA selected Brad Guzan at No. 2. Guzan has emerged as a regular for the US national team and will likely be part of the US roster at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Blake will face a challenge to win the starting job in his rookie season. Incumbent Union starter Zac MacMath has started 66 matches over the past two seasons – including all 34 last year – after he was drafted fifth overall in 2011.