FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Andre Blake probably won’t be participating in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, but he played a huge role in preventing the New England Revolution from officially punching their ticket to the postseason on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
The Philadelphia Union goalkeeper set a club record with 10 saves – including an astonishing nine in the second half – as the Revs were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw, a result which means they’ll have to wait at least one more week to guarantee a third straight trip to the playoffs.
“Credit to Andre, he played a great game,” said Lee Nguyen, who was the only man to beat Blake on Saturday night with a confident first-half penalty kick. “Unfortunately we put a lot of shots right to him. But we created enough chances to get three points. It was just one of those nights where they don’t go in.”
New England dominated in every statistical category, including possession (65-35), corner kicks (14-0) shots (20-5) and shots on target (11-2). They may well have dominated on the scoreboard, as well, if not for Blake, who showed why the Union spent the first overall pick on him in 2014.
“He almost saved the penalty, too. He was all over the place,” said Jay Heaps. “He makes these saves out of nowhere. I would’ve thought we had two or three (goals) tonight. He was excellent.”
No player was more frustrated by Blake than second-half substitute Juan Agudelo, who hit the crossbar with a powerful header, then had two efforts spectacularly stopped by the Union goalkeeper, all in a 45-second span around the 80-minute mark.
“That was the quickest three shots I’ve ever had in a game,” Agudelo said. “All credit goes to the keeper. He played a heck of a game today. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to put one in the back of the net.”
Blake’s heroics – and a single defensive lapse to allow Fernando Aristeguieta’s 65th-minute equalizer – prevented the Revs from climbing back to the top of the Eastern Conference, as both the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC suffered home losses this weekend.
The result also means the Revs will visit the Chicago Fire next weekend still looking to clinch that postseason berth, although a win or draw at Toyota Park would make it official.
“It’s tough,” said Heaps. “You want to punch your ticket when you can and a win tonight would’ve done it, and we didn’t do it.
“But right now I’m looking more at what our opponents are going to look like. The playoffs will take care of themselves if we continue to play and prepare the right way. So we just have to keep having performances like this, but tighten it up in those final areas.”