Andre Blake's time to play in goal for the Union seems close. It just may not be Saturday, when the Union (1-4-3) visit the Columbus Crew SC (2-2-2).
Blake was the first pick of the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, even though the Union had Zac MacMath entrenched in goal. Then they signed Algeria World Cup standout Rais Mbolhi on July 30.
Blake appeared in just one MLS game last year. MacMath is now in Colorado, and Mbolhi has been a disaster. He was sent home supposedly to clear his head, but it would be a surprise if he plays again.
Blake was set back by left knee surgery on Feb. 23. He returned to training the week of March 23 and has been available for the Union's last three games.
Those games have been started by John McCarthy, the pride of North Catholic and La Salle University. The Union went 1-1-1 in that stretch, and McCarthy has had both positive and negative moments in his first MLS foray. But the future presumably is Blake.
If anything, the Union have to look at Blake in game action to see what they have after investing the first overall pick on the 24-year-old keeper.
"He is getting closer to being himself again, the guy we saw in the beginning of preseason," Union manager Jim Curtin said during his weekly news conference. "But he's still not quite there yet."
Blake said he was ready to go when called upon.
"I would say I am 100 percent, but the best way to find that out would be to be in the game. But mentally and physically I am ready," said Blake, a former University of Connecticut star who has seen time with the Jamaican national team
He has shown remarkable patience while waiting his turn.
"It is about coming in every day and knowing it is a tough situation, but you have to fight through it," Blake said.
What: Major League Soccer
Who: Union (1-4-3) at Columbus Crew SC (2-2-2).
When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Where: MAPRFE Stadium.
TV: The Comcast Network.
Union on the road: 0-2-2; Crew at home: 2-1.
Goals for: Union, 9; Crew, 8.
Goals against: Union, 13; Crew, 5.
Last game: The Union lost at home on Sunday to the New England Revolution, 2-1, after leading, 1-0, at halftime. Columbus scored a 3-0 home win over Orlando City FC on Saturday.
Outlook: Forward Kei Kamara has four goals and one assist to lead Columbus in scoring. . . . Union manager Jim Curtin describes the Crew as "a top possession team in the league." . . . Keeper Steve Clark has played all six games for Columbus and has a 0.83 goals-against average. . . . Curtin indicated that midfielder Vincent Nogueira, who missed thelast game with an ankle injury, likely won't play this week. . . . Teammate and fellow midfielder Zach Pfeffer will miss the game while participating in the U-20 national team camp in Austria. . . . John McCarthy has started the last three games in goal for the Union, allowing four goals. The Union are 1-1-1 in those contests. . . . Forward Fernando Aristeguieta, who has a team-high three goals, did not score in the last three games.
- Marc Narducci