Andre Blake has reached the peak.
Leading the Union to their second-ever playoff berth, the 25-year-old goalkeeper has won the 2016 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, beating out the New York Red Bulls’ Luis Robles and Colorado Rapids’ Tim Howard for the title.
“I'm extremely grateful for this award,” Blake said in the team’s official release. “To win Goalkeeper of the Year in my first full season as a starter is something I will always cherish.”
Blake won 24.15 percent of the vote, while Robles came in second with 13.84 percent and Howard third with 12.73 percent.
Selected first overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Blake’s rise within MLS wasn’t a smooth one. Blocked behind Rais Mbolhi and Zac MacMath, the Jamaican national made just one start in 2014, and he was hampered by meniscus injuries to both knees in 2015, when he managed just six games.
But after breaking through both personal injury and the Union’s clumsy handling of their goalkeeping situation, Blake took over the starting job in 2016 and ran with it. With a knack for the athletic game-saver, the goalkeeper earned six shutouts in 32 starts, making 99 saves.
“I want to thank my teammates for pushing me to be better each day,” he said. “Thank you to our technical staff and my goalkeeper coach, Oka Nikolov. Thank you to the voters across MLS for recognizing the season we had here in Philadelphia. We will look to be even better in 2017."
He also did more with less. Unlike Robles, who played behind the best team in the Eastern Conference, and Howard, who manned the best defensive team in MLS, Blake was in charge of organizing a Union back line that featured two rookies, Keegan Rosenberry and Josh Yaro/Ken Tribbett, and a second-year center back in Richie Marquez.
The prestigious award has been won by some of MLS’ best, including Kasey Keller, Brad Guzan and Tony Meola. Faryd Mondragon nearly claimed the prize in 2011 for the Union, but was beat out by Keller.
Blake is the second Union player in as many days to win an award. Veteran Chris Pontius on Wednesday was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year.