PHILADELPHIA – Andre Blake became the first goalkeeper in MLS history to be taken No. 1 in the SuperDraft on Thursday, and the 23-year-old Jamaican knows the distinction comes with responsibility.
"I'm a little bit surprised," he said. "I was thinking maybe I was going in the top four, but I didn't see No. 1 coming.
"It's great. It comes with pressure," he continued. "You're the overall No. 1 pick and you have to go out there on the pitch and show them it was a good choice of taking you No. 1. There's a little bit of pressure. But I'm a goalkeeper and I've been under pressure all the years of all my life. I'm going to go out there, work hard on the pitch and show them it was a good choice."
Part of that pressure is the fact that he immediately gets thrown into a competition for the Philadelphia Union's No. 1 spot with incumbent Zac MacMath, who has come under fire in recent years for some shaky performances.
But Blake handled the questions about the competition like the pro he's become.
"Everyone wants to be in that starting 11," he said. "For me, I just want to go in and take it one step at a time. I'm going to go in, earn my respect, just work hard on the pitch and let the coach do the rest."
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But there's still time before Blake and MacMath are on the field together. For now he'll soak in the historic selection, made in front of his new hometown fans.
"I got a warm welcome," he said about the reception from members of the Sons of Ben supporters group in the stands. "I'm looking forward to getting great support from the fans. … I'll be coming here to work as hard as I can to help the team get to a better place.
"Words can't explain it. I didn't see that coming. It's just a great feeling. I just want to say thanks to Philadelphia."