Union goalkeeper Andre Blake has plenty of experience with going viral when he makes big plays. But last month, he went viral for the wrong reason.
Playing for Jamaica in a Concacaf Nations League qualifying game at El Salvador on March 23, Blake misplayed a free kick by El Salvador’s Gerson Mayen and spilled it right in front of the goal line. Nelson Bonilla beat Blake to the loose ball, sent the home crowd into a frenzy, and started the home team on its way to a 2-0 win.
Blake admitted on Instagram that the gaffe stung. But he promised he’d move on from it, and seven days later, he delivered a shutout for the Union at FC Cincinnati.
“It’s always good to go on the road and get a shutout, and let what happened in the past stay in the past. You just face up to it, you move up to it and you move on,” he told The Inquirer. “It’s never easy, but you can’t let it get to the point where it affects you. I think the best way to get over your fear is to face your fear. Mistakes happen.”
Blake didn’t have to do much in the game, other than get pounded by rain all night. Cincinnati recorded just five shots, only two of which were on target, and he only had to make one save. But it was a big one, a diving stop of a sharp shot by Roland Lamah barely two minutes after the Union’s first goal.
"I was trying to find ways to keep myself in the game, and just try to be ready if or when I'm called upon," Blake said. "I'd put that down as the coldest game I've ever played in my entire career."
The 28-year-old has long been as good at keeping perspective as he has been at keeping goal. He knows goalkeeping blunders happen all the time all over the world, often with even bigger stakes. Just ask Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris, whose last-minute misplay at Liverpool on Sunday allowed the Reds to take over first place in the English Premier League.
“I see guys getting paid maybe 50 times more than I do who are making mistakes,” Blake said. “It’s a part of the game, and it’s about how you react, what you do with it. You can’t over-think. It’s a lonely moment, in the moment that it happens, but it’s about how quickly you can put it behind you.”
He even saluted the Salvadoran fans who gave him an earful.
“It’s a great place to play if you’re playing for El Salvador; it’s a nightmare if you’re not,” he said. “It’s great to have fans like those behind you, but when you’re not, you go in there and they make it tough for you to play.”