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Is Cory Burke on the way back?

Photo: Earl Gardner

Remember Cory Burke?

It’s been quite some time since the Jamaican striker was in the Philadelphia Union news cycle. His 2019 Major League Soccer campaign was abruptly cut short because of unfortunate visa issues and he hasn’t been with the club since. He played his soccer in his native country for a while, scoring 11 goals in 20 caps for Portmore United, and then it was off to Austria where SKN St. Polten took him in on loan until the end of the season.

He made headlines this week by netting a hat trick and dishing an assist in the Austrian Bundesliga’s return to play. He also clanked one off the woodwork and it was a real “Oh, yeah, Cory Burke” moment. For you FIFA 20 players out there, the performance even earned him a gold upgrade Man of the Match Ultimate Team card. It gets you thinking about what kind of player Philly had (and still do have).

People seem to forget that he bagged ten goals for the Union in 2018 and was on pace for something similar last season. Say what you will about the Jamaican league, but 11 goals in 20 is a good conversion at any professional level. A hat trick (almost four) and an assist in a European league is an ever bigger deal. Some of the defending was shaky and one was a virtual punch-in, but European soccer is European soccer and there’s a reason he was targeted.

I was always a fan of Burke. Six-foot-three, quicker than you’d think, and a decent touch. Upon seeing his hat trick that was recognized all over, I immediately thought back to this goal that he scored against Montreal last April. Capitalizes on a nasty turnover, dribbles forward and surveys some possible passes before driving one low into the side panel from a good 24 yards out. It was measured, confident, and something not everyone on the roster is capable of. The guy can play and he clearly hasn’t lost it.

According to TransferMarkt, Burke is worth a mere 660k on the European transfer market. Doesn’t that seem awfully low? It hasn’t been updated since April and certainly doesn’t account for his recent goal scoring record with St. Polten, but with the amount that big clubs are spending on forwards nowadays, it doesn’t seem quite right. Surely a double-digit goalscorer that has proven himself in various leagues is worth at least a million euros. Not to say that Burke has the English Premier League in his future, but as far as MLS goes? He’s a very solid option.

Jim Curtin apparently thinks so as well, and had his eye on him well before the goals started pouring in.

“He has a job to do right now, and I hope he scores some goals and helps his team out,” Curtin told reporters back in May. “But at the same time we’re eager to get him back as well. He’s a really talented striker. And if you drop him in with the three great strikers we already have, that’s a really, really great pair, a really great group.”

Would Burke not be at the top of that group right now? It’s tough to say and probably unfair given that COVID-19 has ravished the league and taken away everyone’s match form, but we know Burke is scoring. The Union simply don’t have a dominant (or even outright) striker right now. Sergio Santos has shown stints of production but hasn’t blossomed, and it’s tough to call Andrew Wooten anything but a disappointment thus far. Kacper Przybylko has settled in and is finding the net at a good rate, but Curtin could even play Burke next to him in something like a 4-4-2.

Any way you slice it, there probably aren’t many Union supporters out there that wouldn’t want Burke back in training and at least competing for a starting spot. What could it hurt? In a weird season like this in which schedules are in the flux and fans are barred and five subs are allowed and nothing is certain, roster depth will unquestionably be important.

Keep your eye out for Cory Burke coming back later this summer and be glad if he does.


  1. And in addition, when Burke comes back he will create a bit more emergency depth in the midfield because Michee Ngalina could play there in an emergency. Right now Ngalina is the #4 striker.

  2. SilverRey says:

    I absolutely love the chemistry between Kasper and Santos right now (and Aaronson). They were clicking nicely in preseason and had some good moments in the LAFC game.
    That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing Burke back in action in the Union blue again. I think that trio of strikers could do some real damage in what remains of the season.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    With a likely tight schedule, it would definitely be good to get Burke back to take some of the load off of Kasper and Santos. The biggest worry is if he needs to go through quarantine when he comes back and loses the advantage of being in match form.

  4. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Can’t wait to have Burke back. I’d feel comfortable with any combo of our 3 main strikers. And if Wooten can figure it out, we can rotate 4 legitimate options and keep everyone fresh for a packed schedule.

  5. Jeri rogers says:

    Nice piece of writing. Your talent should not be overlooked.

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