PHILADELPHIA — Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake didn’t know much about Philadelphia before arriving in the city for Major League Soccer’s draft on Thursday.
He’ll have plenty of time to learn about it.
In front of a swarm of local fans that flooded the Philadelphia Convention Center, the hometown Union selected Blake with the top overall pick – making him the first goalie to be selected No. 1.
“I don’t know much about Philly,” said Blake, who originally hails from Jamaica. “I heard something yesterday about how it’s the place for a cheesesteak or something. That’s as much as I know. But I’m pretty sure I’ll get adjusted and learn everything I need to know.”
The Union originally held the second pick but made a surprising draft-day trade with the rival D.C. United to move up, giving up some cash in the deal. Union manager John Hackworth said they didn’t believe Blake would be available at No. 2 and that he was too special of a talent to pass up.
D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen agreed that Blake was probably the most attractive player coming out of college, and fielded many offers for the top pick because of that. The trade with the Union didn’t come to fruition until moments before the draft began.
“He’s a special goalkeeper,” Olsen said. “I think he’s the real thing. We don’t need one right now. There was a lot of interest in the pick.”
The New England Revolution picked Georgetown All-American midfielder Steve Neumann with the fourth pick, and later added another seasoned college player in Maryland striker Patrick Mullins at No. 11.
Mullins, a two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner given to college soccer’s best player, was expected to go higher but slipped out of the top 10.
“I think that’s how the draft works sometimes,” Mullins said. “A lot of trades happen, a lot of things come in, there are timeouts all over the place. It makes the spectacle really something to enjoy and cherish. I think I did that. I’m glad I ended up in a great place in New England. And I’m excited.”
The third and fourth rounds of this year’s draft will be held Tuesday via conference call.