MacMath working with rookie competitor Blake

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MAY 11: Zac McMath #18 of the Philadelphia Union falls over Gonzalo Segares #13 and Dilly Duka #8 of the Chicago Fire after making a save during an MLS match at Toyota Park on May 11, 2013 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MAY 11: Zac McMath #18 of the Philadelphia Union falls over Gonzalo Segares #13 and Dilly Duka #8 of the Chicago Fire after making a save during an MLS match at Toyota Park on May 11, 2013 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Posted: February 01, 2014

Zac MacMath played every minute of every game last season for the Union in goal, so he was among the many who didn't see it coming when the team selected University of Connecticut keeper Andre Blake with the first overall pick of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

Immediately after the selection, team manager John Hackworth maintained that MacMath would still be the starter, but the move certainly brings more competition.

"I think I was a little bit surprised, and obviously I understand why they picked him," said MacMath earlier this week during preseason workouts at YSC Sports in Wayne. "He is a very good goalkeeper with a lot of potential and someone who is going to push me, and that is the whole point of drafting him."

The two have been working closely together during preseason practices.

"He's been great to me," Blake said of MacMath. "We continue to push each other, and hopefully we both get better."

This is MacMath's fourth MLS season with the Union and the third as the starter. What's interesting is he is 22 years old and Blake is 23.

MacMath admits that a part of him wants to show the Union that they might not have needed to bring in another keeper.

"Absolutely," said MacMath, who was 12-12-10 with 12 shutouts last season. "Any time there is competition it pushes people to be better, and obviously I want to go out and have the best year I can have and kind of prove to myself I am the goalkeeper I think I am."

Union sign Nogueira. The Union have completed their midfield makeover with the expected signing of French playmaker Vincent Nogueira. The 26-year-old midfielder arrives from Sochaux of France's top league.

Previously, the Union signed Argentine Cristian Maidana and U.S. national team veteran Maurice Edu.

Those three would likely team with defensive specialist Brian Carroll to give the midfield an entirely new look.

On Sunday, the Union will depart for Florida, where they will train for much of February.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

|
|
|
|
|