Commentary

Player to watch: Andre Blake

Photo: Paul Rudderow

This installment of PSP’s offseason player retrospective features everyone’s favorite stretchable Jamaican, Andre Blake.

Saved from embarrassment

The Union have never had an amazing defense in front of Andre Blake. This year, despite having a rotating cast on the backline, the Union defense was good enough for the third-fewest Goals Against in the Eastern Conference.

They can thank Andre Blake for that.

The gumby freak in green has time and again saved Union defenders from mortifying humiliation with jaw-dropping saves that leave teammates kissing rosaries, fans in the air, and opponents banging their heads on the ground.

Blake’s pure athleticism is now complemented by more intelligent positioning and the confidence to direct his defenders.

Distribution blues

If anything has dropped Andre Blake’s stock as a player, it’s been his feet. Many Union fans lament the Jamaican’s distribution as just of much as a hindrance to success as his shot-stopping skills are a benefit. Goal kicks used to spin wildly and not make it to midfield, punts would cannonball out of bounds.

Yet, 2017 surely saw tangible improvement in Blake’s ability to spread the ball around the field (and keep it in bounds). The Union under Jim Curtin are never going to play out of the back. That’s fine when you have players like C.J. Sapong and Chris Pontius upfield who can win the ball in the air and kickstart possession. And this season, Blake improved dramatically at finding those hold-up players.

Greener pastures

The real riddle for Union fans this offseason is whether Andre Blake will be sold to Europe. It’s been reported since at least last year, that he could be on the move. The club has repeatedly denied that they’ve ever received an offer (key word there).

One intriguing quandary that’s come up is Blake actually can’t be transferred to England, at least, because Jamaica’s FIFA rank is too low. This seems like a pretty ridiculous rule that I can’t really understand the logic of.

Still, after Blake’s impressive showing in the Gold Cup, talk about the Jamaican taking a transatlantic escape pod out of Philly bubbled up once more. Blake only makes $186k/year, which is a steal for a world class goalkeeper. According to Transfermarkt, Blake’s market value is €800k, which again seems low for a player of his caliber. The website also details, curiously, that Blake had a contract extension on November 1st (this could just be the Union picking up Blake’s option earlier this month).

Blake himself has made it known that he wants the challenge of a big time stage in Europe. He certainly deserves it.

Club cost benefit

With Blake entering the final year of his contract, it’s decision time for the Union front office. The options are simple:

  • Sell Blake now or in summer 2018 and reap a full transfer reward
  • Resign Blake to a much larger contract before his current one expires
  • Let Blake’s contract expire after the 2018 season

Option C is unfathomable and foolish (but somehow will be what happens, right?). For the two prior and logical options, it’s a cost-benefit analysis of how much value Blake adds versus how much his transfer fee could improve the club.

In short, does Andre Blake’s shot stopping prowess win more points for the club than the players you could buy with the million-or-so dollars he’s worth on the transfer market?

We’re about to find out what the front office thinks.

18 Comments

  1. Transfermarkt has Blake worth 800,000 Euros, which is just under $1 million ($943,000). So the question for Stewart: Is it worth selling him after the league takes roughly $300,000 , leaving you with $600,000? Consider what his salary is and it makes a little more sense why he hasn’t been shipped to Sunderland or some other Championship side. If the league lets teams keep the whole transfer fee, than I think Blake gets sold the next day. I’m sure Pachy will post soon about Blake’s miserable abilities with his feet, etc., but I think a good keeping coach at another club would wager he can fix that.

    • I’m not sure that the numbers aren’t switched between the league and the team. On top of that, we can only apply a certain amount towards acquiring/paying a new player. The rest needs to be spent elsewhere (training grounds, stadium costs, etc). Maybe? we could entice Sugarman to spend $$ on a DP knowing that some of the operational costs would be covered, but that’s a big if.
      .
      Until MLS changes their transfer rules, it doesn’t make much sense to sell Blake – especially at $1mil. Hold on to him for as long as possible, including signing a new deal.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    The Union are never going to play the ball on the ground out of the back with Jim Curtin as manager so thank god we have chris pontius and CJ Sapong to lump it too to kickstart possession?
    .
    Do i understand this correctly.
    .
    Waterboard me instead please.
    .
    Guess that makes me a euro snob… but wait only more and more MLS teams are able to keep it on the ground.
    .
    So unsightly as to be a gorgon.
    .
    Shame on the Sporting Director if this is ‘truth’ which it appears to be.
    .
    Matter of fact that is my new name henceforth…
    .
    The Elephant in the Room put to pasture… Citizen Insane institutionalized by this play…
    .
    I am The Gorgon Mirror. Reflecting unsightly back to them.

    • I call BS that the Union won’t play out of the back with Curtin as manager. More like Curtin won’t play out of the back with Blake in goal.

    • Oh great and hideous Gorgon…I shall continue to read your words but only with proper eye protection!

    • Dear Medusa-of-the-snaky-locks,

      A mirror is how Perseus defeated you and took your head, as I recall from long, long ago.

      Look directly at them and transfix them instantly into stone.

      I will miss the mighty trumpet blasts.

      At times they have resembled Jericho before his walls.

      • The Gorgon Mirror says:

        Correct. I have no beef with Perseus. I am the shield used to mirror… the ugliness back on the Gorgon.

    • I call BS. They play the ball out of the back more with McCarthy(a homegrown US player!). He’s not in Blake’s league, but he does now how and when to roll a ball to a fullback.

      • The Gorgon Mirror says:

        I call BS to your BS. Rolling the ball and receiving the ball then playing it are two different things. Respectfully disagree with your ability to tell the difference.

  3. “Option C is unfathomable and foolish (but somehow will be what happens, right?).”

    .

    Yes.

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    Whatever happens must be to the MAX benefit of the team. I’m ok with selling him, but he is your most prized possession and you must get the most out of him. And in conjunction with that, you MUST spend the money received in return. These are all common sense things, but this is not a common sense FO

  5. Whatever they get for him has to be spent wisely.
    That worries me more than him leaving

  6. Resign him. Period. He has game saving/altering abilities. I don’t care where a player sits on the field, if he has game altering abilities, you keep him and try to assemble more of them.

    You people play too much FIFA and/or football manager. In the real world, the Union are not an equal draw for players of that ilk. There is no – we’ll just sell him and use that money to but a bunch of great players. You certainly don’t sell him for a measly, crappy $950K.

  7. But to resign Blake won’t we have to pay him close to his $800K market value? Is Sugarman really going to pay any player that much?

    Essentially the cost of resigning Blake is the same as the cost of selling him and buying a DP.

  8. From a business standpoint, the fact that he can’t go to England (because of that stupid rule) reduces his market value.

    Plus, he is a game-changer. With apologies to whatever el Pachy is going to fall himself this coming season, I simply cannot see equating Blake’s foot limitations with the prowess of his hands.

    I’d re-sign him. Keepers have a long shelf life, so he could always be sold for a big profit the next time, if you decide there are other priorities.

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