Why Andre Blake played, Kemar Lawrence didn't in Union win over Red Bulls

CHESTER, Pa. — Three days after recording a shutout for Jamaica in a 1-0 win over the US men’s national team, Andre Blake was back with the Philadelphia Union for their stunning 3-2 comeback win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. 

Blake’s presence in the starting XI for the Union was somewhat of a surprise, especially since his Reggae Boyz teammate Kemar Lawrence was not lined up as a left back on the opposite side of the field.  

“(Kemar) played 90 minutes the other night and he’s coming off an injury,” New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “We trust the player when it just doesn’t make the most sense. It certainly would have been nice ... It wasn’t realistic tonight.”

Connor Lade got the start at left back in Lawrence’s place and was put under the gun once Ilsinho checked into the game in the 53rd minute and Union head coach Jim Curtin switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ilsinho on the wing. 

Ilsinho punished the Red Bulls defense —  as he’s done to defenses across the league as the Union’s super-sub this season — setting up Jamiro Monteiro’s goal in the 60th minute and tying the game with his third goal of the season. The 33-year-old Brazilian scored the game winner off a saved Monteiro penalty kick in the 72nd minute. 

Blake made his fourth straight start for the Union after missing four games with a groin injury. He recorded his 12th clean sheet for Jamaica on Wednesday in his 37th appearance for his country.

“Since D.C.’s not that far from Philly I thought that was maybe something we could do,” Blake said. “It came down to the wire and the coaches decided they were going to let me go and I said why not? I’m just happy I was able to come back and be a part of this great victory.”

When asked about Lawrence, Blake joked that because he’s such a great player the 'keeper had to do everything he could to “make sure he did not come back for this game.”

“My only concern was to make sure I got out of the game healthy, which I did so that’s key,” Blake added. 

Curtin was asked if Blake would be available for Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup fourth round match at D.C. United (7 pm ET | ESPN+ in US). Jamaica play its first game in the Concacaf Gold Cup five days later on June 17 in Kingston. 

“He has obligations with Jamaica,” Curtin said. “We’ll talk with them and see.”