Cory Burke is eligible to play for the Union again for the first time in 18 months, and the Jamaican striker will be with the team for Monday’s visit to the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., PHL17).
“Cory will be available off the bench,” manager Jim Curtin said. “He is ready to go, looked great in training [Saturday], scored a bunch of goals. Happy with where he’s at, and he looks sharp.”
Burke’s last game for the Union was April 20, 2019. A few days later, he left the country to finish the process of getting his green card, but he did something wrong with the paperwork for renewing his existing visa.
The Union scrambled to loan Burke to Jamaican club Portmore United from September 2019 through the end of December. They then loaned him to Austrian first-division club St. Pölten from early February through the end of July.
After that, everyone had to wait. Burke went back to Jamaica and kept in shape with workouts that he documented regularly on Instagram. It took until the start of October for him to finally get clearance to return to the United States, and on Oct. 6 he flew back to Philadelphia. Upon arriving, he started a 10-day quarantine mandated by MLS. Now he’s finally able to play again.
Burke’s return comes at a time when the Union’s front line could use an extra spark. The team as a whole is scoring plenty of goals, but Kacper Przybylko hasn’t hit the net in six games. Andrew Wooten, the first forward sub off the bench, still has just one goal this year.
Centerback Jakob Glesnes is ready to play again after missing the last 2 1/2 games with a concussion. His return comes at a crucial time, as the Union will be shorthanded in the back half of the field Monday night.
Alejandro Bedoya is suspended due to yellow card accumulation; José Andrés Martínez is in quarantine after returning from Venezuela’s national team; and Warren Creavalle is out with an ankle injury suffered on Oct. 12. That leaves the Union perilously thin at defensive midfielder. Centerback Jack Elliott might have to take the job -- one he did in college at West Virginia -- against New England.
If Glesnes wasn’t back yet, the Union probably wouldn’t be able to make that move.