Thursday, January 16, 2014

Union trade up for GK Blake

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Union drafted four players today at the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, including University of Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake with the number one overall selection.

Philadelphia also selected Coastal Carolina’s Pedro Ribeiro (No. 15 overall), a 6-foot-4 inch midfielder who is a former member of the Philadelphia Union’s PDL affiliate, Reading United A.C. The club then rounded out the second round by selecting Michigan State defender Kevin Cope (No. 25 overall) and University of Akron defender Robbie Derschang (No. 27 overall).

The Union originally held the No. 2 and No. 6 overall picks, but swapped the second pick with D.C. United to move to No. 1 overall, where Blake was selected. The Union then traded the No. 6 pick to FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money and the No. 10 pick. The Union picked up more allocation money when the club the traded the No. 10 pick to Toronto in exchange for No. 15.

“We walk away with literally our top two targets in Pedro and Andre,” Team Manager John Hackworth said. “And we’ve now increased our allocation (money).”

Blake, 23, played in 68 matches, which were all starts, at the University of Connecticut and amassed 36 shutouts. In 2013, Blake recorded 10 shutouts (.75 GAA) and was named American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and also was a Semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given to the top player in the nation.

In 2012, the Jamaican started in all 22 matches and earned Big East Goalkeeper of the Year. As a freshman in 2011, Blake tied a Connecticut record with 15 shutouts on the year, including a span of nine straight. He was also named Big East Goalkeeper of the Year.

“I didn’t see this coming; it’s a big surprise, but what can I say,” Blake said.  “Every player dreams of being the No. 1 overall pick and for me to do it as a goalkeeper is a great feeling and a great achievement.”

Ribeiro, 23, spent four years at Coastal Carolina, scoring 31 goals and notching 26 assists during his collegiate career. A product of Reading United A.C., the Union’s PDL Affiliate club, the native Brazilian had a decorated career at Coastal Carolina, receiving NSCAA Second Team All-American honors (2013), Big South Attacking Player of the Year (2013) and First Team All-Big South (2013, 2012, 2011), among others.

The Philadelphia Union’s partnership with Reading United A.C. was in full effect, as Ribeiro joins current Philadelphia Union Assistant Coach Brendan Burke, who formerly was the head coach at Reading United.

Cope, 22, was an anchor of Michigan State’s defense over his time in school, where he amassed 84 starts. In 2013, Cope helped led the Spartans to 13 shutouts and the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. A former PDL Defender of the Year (2012), the defender also earned Second Team All-Big Ten (2012, 2011) honors as well as Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2009, where he started in all 21 matches. Cope also was just the third ever defender to win Michigan’s Mr. Soccer award, earning honors in 2008 while at Salem High School.

Derschang, 21, played for Akron in 2012-2013 and SMU in 2010-2011, making 75 total appearances between the two schools. In his freshman year at SMU, he was named a Top Drawer Soccer Freshman All-American and to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. Derschang also spent time in the U.S. Youth National Team Pool at the U-17, U-15 and U-14 levels, participating in the U.S. U-17 residency program in 2008.
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