The long wait to see Cory Burke in a Philadelphia Union uniform again finally came to an end Monday night in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
In the team for the first time since April 20, 2019, the Jamaican international played the final 13 minutes off the bench.
“I thought he got out there, worked hard, made his presence felt almost immediately and did a good job for us,” head coach Jim Curtin said about Burke. “It’s great to have him back and obviously it’s good to get some minutes under his legs.”
Burke has been away from the team for the better part of two seasons now because of visa issues, playing on loan in his native Jamaica and Austria over that 548-day span between Union appearances. His return to the field Monday night required the Union to acquire an additional international roster spot, which they traded $50,000 in general allocation money to the Montreal Impact to acquire.
Burke’s return could be a big lift for a Union front line that has struggled of late. Sergio Santos’s goals against Montreal and Toronto are the only two the striking trio of Santos, Kacper Przybylko and Andrew Wooten have scored over the last seven games. Wooten has yet to score a regular season MLS goal in 21 appearances and Kacper Przybylko saw his scoring draught reach seven games Monday.
“He’s definitely a great addition to the team,” Burke’s Reggae Boyz teammate Andre Blake said after Monday’s match.
Burke’s biggest moment came when he had the ball out wide with Brenden Aaronson making a run unmarked into the middle of the box, but his pass was too close to Matt Turner, who was able to beat Aaronson to the ball.
“It’s a tough time for a striker to come into the game when your only option is going to be on the counter,” Curtin said. “He just missed a couple passes that he could have iced the game for us.”