The Philadelphia Union selected Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake with the first pick of the MLS SuperDraft on January 16, 2014.
PHILADELPHIA --- Andre Blake is over the moon after becoming the first choice in the 2014 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft at the Philadelphia Convention Center on Thursday.
The 23-year-old became the first goalkeeper and Jamaican in MLS history to be taken in the top spot, when the Philadelphia Union announced their decision.
The 6-foot, 4-inch netminder, who played at the University of Connecticut for the last three years, said that he wants to repay all those who have helped and believed in him on his journey.
"It is my hope to become the best professional I can be, while being an ambassador for Jamaica on an off the field,” he said. “I truly feel blessed.
“I would like to thank my youth coaches in Jamaica, the JFF, Ray Reid, Pro Goals Sports (my agents) for assisting me along the way and of course the MLS/Adidas for providing me with this fantastic opportunity to start a professional football career."
The player’s agent, Romel Wallen of Pro Goals Sports, noted that Blake’s success was the result of “hard work and consistent dedication.”
“His number one pick is historic in the context of the MLS,” said Wallen. “As a result, we are sincerely proud to be a part of a quality young man realizing his professional dream.”
Blake has represented Jamaica internationally at the under-17 and under-20 levels, and, more recently, as the recognized third-string goalkeeper during the nation’s qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014.
In Thursday’s first phase of the draft, two other Jamaicans were taken in the top 10 --- 19-year-old midfielder Andre Lewis at number seven by the Vancouver Whitecaps and 20-year-old defender Damion Lowe at number eight for the Seattle Sounders.
Lowe, the son of former Jamaican international Onandi, said his move up the professional ranks is “a dream come true.”
"Words can't explain how I feel right now because I've made a lot of people proud,” Lowe expressed. “In my life, I've been through ups and downs. I come from a place where not many people become successful or fulfill their dreams.
“I'm just glad for this great opportunity and I'm looking forward to great things in Seattle.”
A fourth Jamaican in the draft, Romena Bowie, was not selected either of the opening two rounds. The Virginia Commonwealth University midfielder, however, will have another opportunity when the third and fourth rounds are conducted on Tuesday via conference call.