Union goalkeeper Andre Blake's return likely vs. Toronto FC; Forbes ranks Union among MLS' least valuable teams

Andre Blake’s return from injury is now expected to come in next Wednesday’s game at Toronto FC, according to Union manager Jim Curtin.

The Union’s top goalkeeper hasn’t played since suffering a laceration in his right hand during the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on July 27. Curtin said Blake was to have stitches in the hand removed Wednesday afternoon.

“Hopefully when the stitches come out, the doctors will be happy with how [the hand] has healed,” Curtin said. “Andre hasn’t really started catching [balls]. Once the stitches come out, we can kind of speed that process up and see how [the hand] responds to the contact… It’s still a noticeable cut – it’s healed incredibly well, but it still is something that is tender.”

John McCarthy will start Saturday’s game at the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 p.m., TCN).

In other Union injury news, centerback Oguchi Onyewu and playmaking midfielder Ilsinho are both likely out of the trip to San Jose due to groin injuries. Onyewu suffered his during the July 29 game at New England; Ilsinho’s was more recent.

“Gooch would have been in the starting lineup this past weekend” if not for the severity of the pain, Curtin said. “He played through it against Dallas, and it just got a little bit too tough for him. We didn’t want to risk it and have it be an injury that lasts longer.”

Curtin described Ilsinho’s injury as “a little bit of a tear-slash-sports hernia situation – it’s a matter of what he can tolerate pain-wise.”

Away from the field, Forbes released its latest Major League Soccer franchise valuations on Wednesday, and the Union came in near the bottom by every metric. The team ranked 16th in estimated value at $170 million; tied for 14th in revenue with $25 million; and tied for 12th in net income with an operating loss of $2 million. The net margin is down from last year’s $1 million profit, while revenue rose slightly from last year’s $24 million. The franchise is up considerably from last year’s $152 million.

The Los Angeles Galaxy ranked No. 1 in all three metrics: a $315 million franchise value, $63 million in revenue and $9 million in profit. The Seattle Sounders were second across the board: a $295 million franchise value, $53 million in revenue and $6 million in profit. The Columbus Crew had the lowest franchise value at $130 million, the Colorado Rapids had the least revenue at $19 million, and Toronto FC and New York City FC tied for the biggest losses at $9 million.

Forbes computes its figures using its own estimates of earnings, expenses and other factors. It said the average franchise values league-wide is now $223 million, an increase of 20 percent from a year ago. It said 11 teams lost money, and one finished at net zero.

“The valuations reflect a league that is extremely well positioned for growth,” Union chief business officer Tim McDermott said. “I think there is excitement about expansion, about being a league with true geographic national presence and with global reach, with fan bases that are growing.”