Blake can win historic MLS MVP award – Thompson
No goalkeeper has ever won the Major League Soccer (MLS) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in its 25-year history.
However, former national goalkeeper Ryan Thompson believes that national senior men’s captain Andre Blake has every chance to make history and claim the league’s highest individual honour.
The 30-year-old Blake, who plays for the Philadelphia Union, was named a finalist for the award, the first time that a goalkeeper has been nominated since 2004. He is already coming off a year in which he guided the Union to the Supporter’s Shield (regular-season title), their first trophy in franchise history, as well as claiming the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award for the second time in his career.
The league MVP has normally been given to attacking players, but Thompson says that Blake’s consistent growth over his seven years at the club gives him a great chance of capturing the accolade.
“I think it (Blake’s success) is a result of the work that Blake has put in and the fact that he has grown and evolved. He is now showing consistency,” Thompson told The Sunday Gleaner. “Before a lot of people in the league here in America, we’re like ‘Oh, Andre Blake is amazing but he makes mistakes.’ Now he is not making the mistakes. Don’t talk about Andre’s mistakes. Let’s talk about the great things Andre Blake has been doing.”
Blake finished the regular season with league’s best save percentage (0.778) and average goals allowed (0.88) for goalkeepers with at least 20 appearances or more. Additionally, he marshalled the Union to the best defensive record in the league, allowing 20 goals from 23 games played.
While Thompson notes that Blake has always been capable of making fantastic saves, he says that the main difference this season is his leadership skills.
“He has now evolved into a better leader. He’s starting to inspire people around him. He’s started to inspire his backline, his midfield, and now he’s making people around him better, and then that results in his team winning more games, not just Andre Blake making saves,” Thompson stated.
Blake has been with the Union since 2014 and has now made 145 appearances for the club. In assessing the next career move for him, Thompson says that he has every chance of playing in the English Premier League if he chooses, but hopes that if not, the Union ensure that his worth is shown financially.
“I hope the [Union] pays Andre what he deserves. Andre needs to take care of his family when he no longer plays. However, if Andre wants to go to the [English] Premier League (EPL) I think he has the ability to do that,” Thompson said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to be in the EPL. The question is, who is going to take the risk?”
The Union will begin their play-off campaign next week against either the New England Revolution, the Montreal Impact or Inter Miami FC , which features national defender Alvas Powell.