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Curtin praises Cory Burke’s contributions down the stretch

Burke has shown his value and importance since returning to the club after a long absence

Morgan Tencza

Any doubts that the Philadelphia Union would capture their first trophy on Sunday night were put to rest by Cory Burke’s second big moment since the Jamaican’s long awaited return.

‘’Cory stepped up in a big way for us,” Curtin said in a press conference with media over Zoom on Thursday. “He’s obviously had a long time away from the team, we missed him a great deal. And he’s such a good kid and has such an infectious smile. He comes to train hard every day and I’m a big believer in when you do work hard good things happen.’’

Sunday night marked just Burke’s fifth game since his return, one that was long expected and due but because of the current pandemic and paperwork kept getting delayed.

The 28-year-old found the net just over a week after his first game back in a Union jersey when he had the winner in an animated contest against Chicago Fire with his first touch after coming off the bench in the 65th minute.

A goal that was very important to both the player and the team as a spirit of relief filled Subaru Park with the striker’s contagious smirk. His 13th career goal — and first since April 20, 2019 — was one that meant that the U had the night under control. Concerning this game Curtin commented: ‘’the goal he scored against Chicago to win us the game, gave us a little bit of a snapshot.’’

Fast forward a couple of weeks and it is Decision Day against the New England Revolution with the Union needing a win to guarantee a trophy.

Burke watched Sergio Santos open the scoring at the 42nd minute from the bench but the Brazilian’s goal was far from enough to seal the game as the visitors kept pushing for an equalizer.

Burke started warming up and replaced Santos at the 63rd minute, six minutes of waiting were enough for him to do what he does best. At the 69th minute and using the Philly boss’ word to describe it: ‘’He rewards the group by making a great hard run in the box. And for Jose (Martinez) to put in the ball and know that Cory is going to get on the end of it and score a big goal to clinch things was something that was special.’’

Curtin was seen celebrating but didn’t look too surprised, almost as if he knew that Burke was the answer and that for him to seal the night was an inevitability.

‘’Nobody’s more happy than Cory to be back here,” Curtin said. “Nobody’s more happy than Cory to win a trophy. Nobody’s more happy than Cory when he scores goals so that’s what he does best. He’s given us a real boost, he’s pushing for more and more minutes each week. We have healthy competition going into the playoffs now with a really good stable of attacking players, and a really good group of defenders as well.’’

All of that bodes well for a team that has put the celebrations behind them and shifted its focus to capturing a rare double — something just three teams in the past 17 years have done — by winning both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.