Union use top overall MLS SuperDraft pick to grab goalie Andre Blake

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Philadelphia, PA, United States (4E Sports) – The Philadelphia Union made history Thursday, taking Andre Blake as the first-ever goalkeeper taken first overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft Thursday at Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The Union traded the second overall pick and allocated money to D.C. United for the first pick to take Blake, a Jamaican international who impressed scouts during the MLS Player Combine last week in Florida.

The 6-4 Blake won Big East Goalkeeper of the Year in his junior season with the University of Connecticut. He was the highest pick for a goalkeeper since Chivas USA selected current US national team regular Brad Guzan with the second pick in 2005.

“There’s a little bit of pressure,” Blake said. “But I’m a goalkeeper and I’ve been under pressure all the years of all my life. I’m going to be out there, work hard on the pitch and show them it was good choice.”

After trading down, D.C. United used its second overall pick to get California defender Steve Birnbaum, a talented center back. The 6-2 Birnbaum was a NSCAA first team All-American for the Golden Bears last season.

The Vancouver Whitecaps selected Birnbaum teammate and California defender Christian Dean, 20, with the No. 3 pick. The 6-3 left-footed center back was an All Pac-12 selection last season.

It was the second time in three years that collegiate teammates were taken among the top three picks. In 2011, Akron teammates Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen were taken second and third overall.

First round picks:

No. 1: Philadelphia, Andre Blake

No. 2: DC United, Steven Birnbaum

No. 3: Vancouver, Christian Dean

No. 4: New England, Steve Neumann

No. 5: Montreal, Eric Miller

No. 6: FC Dallas, Tesho Akindele

No. 7: Vancouver, Andre Lewis

No. 8: Seattle , Damion Lowe

No. 9: San Jose, J.J. Koval

No. 10: Toronto FC, Nick Hagglund

No. 11: New England, Patrick Mullins

No. 12: Colorado, Marlon Hairston

No. 13: Chicago, Marco Franco

No. 14: Columbus, Ben Sweat

No. 15: Philadelphia, Pedro Ribeiro

No. 16: Houston, A.J. Cochran

No. 17: Portland, Ntokozko Tshuma

No. 18: RSL, Ryan Neil

No. 19: Colorado, Grant Van De Casteele

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