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UConn Soccer Notebook: Andre Blake faces USMNT, the legend of Steph Labbé grows

Plus some updates on how other former UConn stars are doing in the pros.

United States v Jamaica: Quarterfinals -2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

It didn’t take long for all of Major League Soccer to fall in love with goalkeeper Andre Blake the way Storrs, Connecticut did. The former UConn men’s soccer standout is a two-time MLS All-Star, the 2020 All State MLS Goalkeeper of the year, and now a rich man after inking a contract extension with the Philadelphia Union through 2024, with a club option for 2025.

Blake made a lot of American soccer fans nervous last night, though, when Jamaica took the U.S. men’s national team to the brink in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Blake had four saves, including this point-blank beauty, to keep Jamaica in the game in the first half.

Alas, Blake couldn’t claim a cross from Christian Roldan in the 83rd minute which resulted in Matthew Hoppe getting his revenge and heading home the game winner. Regardless of the quasi-gaffe, he kept Jamaica in the game all night and deserves the national attention he received for his stellar play in the spotlight. The Jamaican international has logged 46 caps for his country and has some speculating whether he’s ready for a move overseas.

There’s a lot more going on with Husky soccer alums than just Blake though.

The Legend of Labbe

Stephanie Labbe is a UConn women’s soccer alum and everyone should know her name. In the opening round of the Tokyo Olympics, Labbe and the Canadian National team avoided a loss to host nation Japan thanks to some heroics from the goalkeeper.

Labbé was clobbered on a breakaway in the stoppage time of the first half and got whistled for a penalty. After spending some time down in considerable pain, she got up, SAVED THE DAMN PK, and exited at halftime with the injury. Her heroics saved Canada a point and earned her instant hardcore status from soccer fans everywhere.

Larin also hurt on international duty

Speaking of the Great White North, Canadian international and fellow UConn men’s soccer alum Cyle Larin had his Gold Cup cut short with a soft tissue leg injury suffered vs. the U.S. last Sunday.

Larin has been scoring goals faster than most people can count. He has five goals in his last five games for Canada (10 on the year) and has poured in an absurd 31 goals in 71 games for Turkish side Besiktas.

A New Home for Harris, Nerwinski Steady

Some updates on other former Huskies:

  • Dayonn Harris, Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL) — Picked up by the Rowdies from the Real Monarchs at the start of the season, Harris has appeared in nine games for Tampa Bay, logging one assist. He went 72 minutes in a homecoming of sorts vs. Hartford Athletic on June 27.
  • Jake Nerwinski, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS) — The right back has appeared in nine games for the Whitecaps, logging six starts.
  • George Fochive, Portland Timbers (MLS) — After bouncing around Europe for a handful of years, Fochive returned to the club that first drafted him and has appeared in three games.
  • Nkosi Tafari (previously Burgess), FC Dallas (MLS) — Burgess now goes by his middle name Tafari and has logged eight starts for FC Dallas this season.
  • Kwame Awuah, Forge FC (CPL) — Logging time in the Canadian Premier League, Awuah has appeared in eight games and has one assist on the season.
  • Austin Aviza, Richmond Kickers (USL) — As a backup goalkeeper, Aviza has appeared in one game for Kickers of USL League One.
  • Abdou Mbacke Thiam, Louisville City FC (USL) — Mbacke Thiam suffered a broken leg during Lou City’s preseason and has spent the entire year rehabbing so far.
  • Jake Dengler, Maryland Bobcats (NISA) — The National Independent Soccer Association began in 2019 and the former Loyola transfer is on the roster for the fall after playing in five games during the spring season.
  • Ibrahima Diop — The talented junior, an 2020-2011 All-Big East Academic teamer to boot, will transfer and play for Grand Canyon University this fall. He was best known for his hat trick in the 2018 NCAA Tournament to help UConn erase a 3-1 deficit against URI as a freshman.

As far as the current iteration of UConn men’s soccer, keep an eye out in this space for a schedule and roster breakdown in August.