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The Union’s Andre Blake and Jakob Glesnes win big MLS awards

Blake won Goalkeeper of the Year in a landslide as expected, while Glesnes was a surprising winner of Defender of the Year.

Jakob Glesnes (right) won Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year award.
Jakob Glesnes (right) won Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year award.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Two Union players won major awards from Major League Soccer on Wednesday, one expected and the other a surprise.

The expected one was Andre Blake winning Goalkeeper of the Year, and doing so in a landslide. There was never a doubt that Blake is the league’s best netminder, and he routed all three voting categories: media, players, and team front-office staff.

Among the 31-year-old-Jamaican’s many highlight stats was a 79.4% save percentage, the best in the league among goalkeepers with at least three apearances this year.

Blake is the first three-time winner of the award, after earning it in 2016 and 2020. Four goalkeepers have won it twice: Joe Cannon (2002 and ‘04), Pat Onstad (2003 and ‘05), Donovan Ricketts (2010 and ‘13), and Zach Thornton (1998 and 2009). Onstad is the last player to win it twice in three years.

» READ MORE: Why Andre Blake is the most important player in Union history

The surprise was centerback Jakob Glesnes winning Defender of the Year. Union left back Kai Wagner was the public favorite for his mix of contributions to the defense and attack, but Glesnes won the player and media votes by some distance. Wagner topped the team staff vote by less than one percentage point.

Glesnes certainly did his part to earn the honor. He was the only Union defender to play every minute of all 34 regular-season games this year, and led the team in interceptions (57) and blocked shots (31). And he did so with an impressively clean playing style, just two yellow cards and no reds.

All of those stats were pieces of the Union setting a record for the fewest goals allowed in a 34-game season in MLS history, 26, besting a mark that had stood for a decade.

The Norway-born Glesnes is the first Union player to win Defender of the Year, and the first international player in the league to win the award since 2015.

The players were informed of their honors during Wednesday’s practice by 76ers star Tyrese Maxey, who recorded a video message congratulating them. Maxey was a guest of honor at a game in late August, when Blake and Glesnes helped deliver a 6-0 shutout of the Colorado Rapids.

» READ MORE: Jim Curtin knew the Union could be good this year. He didn’t think they’d be this good.