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UConn in Pro Soccer: Blake Back in Net, Larin Still Chasing Record

Finally healthy after multiple setbacks, Andre Blake is in a starting role with Philadelphia, while Orlando's Cyle Larin remains stuck in a tie for a long-standing MLS record.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It was only a matter of time before the Philadelphia Union got to see the real Andre Blake.

The No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft was sidelined for most of this season with leg injuries, but the UConn great appears to be back at full health. Blake was on the bench for Jamaica in July, when the Reggae Boyz shocked the United States in the Gold Cup before losing to Mexico in the final. Despite that, he was not seeing time in Philadelphia.

Last week, the Union parted ways with Rais M'Bolhi, a veteran goalkeeper and former Ghanaian international, leaving the Union with Blake, 24, loanee Brian Sylvestre, 22, and John McCarthy, 23. Manager Jim Curtin turned to Blake for the first time in an MLS game in 2015 Aug. 22, and Blake responded by maintaining a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Montreal. Blake made four saves in the match, which included Didier Drogba's MLS debut.

Blake was back in net for the second match in a row Saturday night against the New England Revolution. Despite making five saves, Blake was caught in the midst of a defensive lapse by the Union and was beat for the lone goal in a 1-0 win for New England.

While Blake was fighting off the Revolution, this year's No. 1 pick, Cyle Larin, was waiting for the lightning to pass in Orlando. The Canadian rookie was sitting on 11 goals entering Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire, tied with former UConn Husky and Chicago star Damani Ralph for the MLS single-season record for goals by a rookie.

After a two-and-a-half hour delay, Orlando and Chicago only played 18 minutes before another lightning delay. Coming out of the restart, Larin was threatening in the attacking third, especially after Chicago took the lead.

Orlando equalized moments later, through Larin, or at least that is how it looked.

The goal can be found here. Larin gets on the end of a great ball and looks to head the ball past Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson, and he and Orlando celebrated as if it was his goal. However, the replay shows the ball coming off Chicago's Eric Gehrig.

Larin did the hard work, though, getting in position to prevent Gehrig from clearing the ball and making sure the only destination for the ball was the back of the net. After the game, he said he should get credit for what would have been his record-breaking goal.

As he approaches the record, Larin is still the clear frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award.

Here is what is going on with some other UConn alumni around professional soccer.

Tony Cascio, Orlando City (MLS): The former Husky midfielder missed most of last season at Houston with a torn ACL, and this year has been riddled with injuries as well. An ongoing back issue has kept him sidelined in Orlando. Cascio returned to training with the Lions last week, but he was left out of the 18-man squad for Saturday's game against Chicago.

George Fochive, Portland Timbers (MLS): Fochive has started five matches for Portland this year, but he did not see time in the other 10 matches he was called into. He has started eight matches for the Timbers' reserve team, T2, in USL. With T2, Fochive has netted four goals. He was nominated for USL Goal of the Week for a recent strike against Oklahoma City.

Carlos Alvarez, Charlotte Independence (USL), on loan from Colorado Rapids (MLS): Alvarez has made a big impact for Charlotte while on loan in the third tier of American soccer. The No. 2 pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft has played in 14 matches with the Independence. He had an assist in a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh Aug. 22.

Josh Ford, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL), on loan from Orlando City: Ford was sent to Ft. Lauderdale on loan in June and had it extended to a full-season loan in July. He has started 12 of the Strikers' 20 matches.

Lionel Brown, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL): The former UConn back-up has seen time in three matches, starting two. Brown and Ford make up half four-man goalkeeper group in Ft. Lauderdale.

Shawn Nicklaw, Jacksonville Armada (NASL): Nicklaw has made himself a key figure in Jacksonville's defense this season. A defender for the Guam national team, Nicklaw has played in 15 matches for the Armada, starting eight. It's safe to say your team likes having you around when your image is used on club advertisements.

Julius James, San Antonio Scorpions (NASL): James has become a popular player in San Antonio, and the Scorpions and their fans have rallied around him since he suffered a broken leg July 11. Despite the injury, James is keeping his spirits high, and he seems to be enjoying his time in the broadcast booth. While he recovers from the injury, James is helping out on broadcast of Scorpions matches.

Chukwudi Chijindu, Keflavik Football Club (Iceland): Chijindu, who played for UConn from 2004 to 2007, is in his fourth season playing in Iceland, his third in the country's top division. After three years with a club named Thor, which was relegated back to the second division this year, Chijindu joined Keflavik, a first-divison side. With four matches left, Keflavik is close to being relegated to the second division, sitting eight points away from potential safety. Chijindu has played in three matches, playing all 90 minutes in all three, but he has not featured in Keflavik's last three matches.