STORRS, Conn. – Two former UConn men’s soccer stars gave the program a strong presence at the 2017 Gold Cup, which concluded on Wednesday night when the United States defeated Jamaica, 2-1, in the final at Levi’s Stadium.
Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake (May Pen, Jamaica), a three-time All-American at UConn and 2016 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for the Philadelphia Union, was injured early in the first half on Wednesday night – exiting the game before a goal was scored.
Blake, however, shined throughout the tournament with his miraculous saves that helped Jamaica advance to the championship game. On Thursday, he captured the Golden Glove Award presented by Allstate as the Gold Cup's top goalkeeper.
Not only did Jamaica upset Mexico in the semifinals, but also beat Canada in the quarterfinals – Cyle Larin’s team.
Larin (Brampton, Ontario), the 2014 American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year at UConn and a member of Orlando City FC, competed against his old college teammate, but fell short in a 2-1 loss – sending Jamaica to the semifinals.
Blake and Larin might be meeting again soon, and not on an MLS field either. The Jamaican Football Federation recently confirmed that the Men’s National Team will play an international friendly against Canada on Sept. 2 in Toronto, Canada.
Both Blake and Larin were selected in the first round of their respective MLS SuperDrafts, with Blake (2014) and Larin (2015) being chosen with the top overall pick.
UConn is the only program with back-to-back number one picks in the history of the MLS SuperDraft. It was almost three-consecutive top overall picks, as UConn alum Carlos Alvarez was selected with the second pick of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
Alvarez had a solid rookie season in 2013, starting 26 of 29 appearances for Chivas USA, scoring two goals and adding four assists that season.
Larin, much like Blake, has made a tremendous splash in the MLS since joining Orlando City. He was named 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year after scoring 17 goals in his inaugural campaign, tying him for fifth among all goal scorers in the league.
It was not the first time Larin made an immediate impact for a soccer team. As a freshman at UConn in 2013, he was named American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year after scoring a team-best 14 goals.