Published:Friday | September 4, 2020 | 12:18 AMDescribing his 16-month exile from Major League Soccer (MLS) club Philadelphia Union as a “year of ups and downs”, national striker Cory Burke hopes that his roller-coaster experience will result in a speedy return to the club.
Forced to return to Jamaica last May after losing his P1 Visa status, he eventually was sent on loan to Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) champions Portmore United until early January. Then his travels took him to Austria with SKN St Polten on loan until July. But after his second loan stint, he still wasn’t able to return to Philadelphia in time for the MLS Is Back tournament later that month. The MLS competition had been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burke said that while frustrated in not being able to help his team as the Union resumed play, he is hopeful of a speedy return once approval is given for his visa.
“At this moment it’s a bit frustrating for me whenever I watch the team play, [because] I should be playing,” Burke said. “I think that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the reasons why the process hasn’t already been completed but I’m very excited, I can’t wait for this moment to come.”
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has labelled the current situation as ‘ridiculous’. Speaking after their 1-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, he says that he regrets not having Burke for the start of the 2020 season.
“We certainly miss Cory. But these things are out of our hands,” Curtin said. “I wish I had answers and had control and could help but certainly Cory adds instantly to our depth and gives us a really dangerous weapon.”
While he waits for a positive outcome to his visa problem, Burke says that he has been maintaining his fitness to ensure that he will not be far behind his teammates (in fitness) when he rejoins his MLS club.
“I work out at the gym in Old Harbour and I go on the beach sometimes to run on the sand. There is a primary school that I attended [Spanish Town Primary] where I would do some running on the field of play,” he said. “So that’s what I am doing now to keep myself in shape.”
After their semi-final run at the MLS is Back tournament, the Union have resumed their 2020 regular season and are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points.