Jamaica international Andre Blake (pictured) hopes to make his first MLS playoff against Toronto FC on October 26, 2016. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Strffon Images)
PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Union secured a berth in the Major League Soccer playoffs for the first time since 2011, when it completed the regular season Sunday with an 11W-9D-14L record; good enough for a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
A key factor in Philadelphia’s success was the play of goalkeeper Andre Blake, who started 32 games after making seven total appearances in the previous two seasons combined.
“It is a great feeling,” said the 26-year-old. “It has been quite some time. We need to be positive with this. We need to continue this good form. Once the rest of players do the work and we can take on every team and make a good impression of ourselves. We can certainly match up against the best of this league.”
The Union will visit third-place Toronto FC on Wednesday in the knockout round, with the winner slated to square off against New York City FC. In 17 all-time meetings between the sides, Philadelphia and Toronto have six wins each.
Blake, the first pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, made his Jamaica debut in a 2-0 win over Barbados on March 2, 2014. He helped the Reggae Boyz to the 2014 Caribbean Cup title and appeared in all three matches at the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
That experience will be put to good use in the MLS postseason.
“The playoffs are a different scenario,” he finished. “It’s a win or go home situation and we need to be on top. Teams will show more energy than the regular season and I will ensure to do my best to help my club progress. We are five games from the final. That is the way we need to look at it.”
Jamaica internationals Alvas Powell and Michael Seaton won the MLS Cup in 2015 with the Portland Timbers.