Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Union and GK Andre Blake look to cool off Fire

Field Level Media
13 Aug 2022, 04:55 GMT+10

The Philadelphia Union are legitimate contenders for their first MLS Cup championship, thanks largely to four-time All-Star goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Blake, also a two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, has been arguably the biggest reason why the Union (12-3-9, 45 points) remain in first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Union have scored 41 goals and allowed only 18. Easy math explains why the Union have already compiled 12 wins.

Philadelphia will look for its 13th victory Saturday against the visiting Chicago Fire.

"We have to keep going when it gets to the playoffs," Blake said. "It is a completely new season -- you could win the league and then get knocked on in the first game, so you have to bring it in the playoffs. We are doing pretty good right now so hopefully, we can take that confidence into the playoffs and hopefully go all the way this year."

The Union are 7-0-5 at home and remain the lone club in the league without a home loss this season.

In the Union's last game, they fell 3-1 on the road to FC Cincinnati. That came after a 6-0 home victory over the Houston Dynamo on July 30.

Blake, Kai Wagner and Jakob Glesnes all will return after being named to the MLS All-Star Game.

The matchup against the Fire will be challenging regardless of who's available.

"If you look at a lot of their performances from early in the season, they've been a little bit unlucky," Union coach Jim Curtin said. "They've played really good soccer all season, and now you're starting to see the results go their way."

The Fire (8-10-6, 30 points) will look to extend their unbeaten streak to six games.

Chicago is 4-0-1 in its last five games, most recently with a 3-2 win over Charlotte FC.

Following the victory over Charlotte, Kacper Przybylko and Xherdan Shaqiri were included in the MLS Team of the Week. Przybylko, a former member of the Union, scored two goals and Shaqiri added two assists, his ninth and 10th of the season to lead the team.

Like the Union with Blake, Chicago is blessed to feature a strong goalkeeper in Gabriel Slonina.

Slonina signed with Chelsea but was recently loaned back to the Fire.

"It's been a hectic year but that's the sport I play," Slonina said. "That's the life I want to live and I'm super grateful and super honored that what's happened has happened. Hopefully we can keep on going in the right direction."

--Field Level Media

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