Union striker Cory Burke has been ruled ineligible to play for at least three months, and possibly the rest of the season, because of visa issues.
Sporting director Ernst Tanner announced the news Friday morning. Tanner said that when Burke went home recently to Jamaica to finish the process of getting a green card, he did something wrong with the paperwork for renewing his existing U.S. visa.
Coincidentally, Burke has been on the verge of getting a green card for much of this year, but that was held up by U.S. government bureaucracy. Now that is on hold for a while, too. The only good news for Burke is that the wait to renew his visa shouldn’t affect his eligibility to play for Jamaica at this summer’s Gold Cup. That is a separate process.
“I feel really sorry [for him], but with these processes, you don’t have everything in your control,” Tanner said. “I can assure that he didn’t do any crimes or whatever. With your government, it’s going to be sometimes really tricky.”
Burke has scored two goals for the Union this season, and 16 since coming up to the Union from Bethlehem Steel at the start of last season. He remains under contract with the Union and is being paid by the team. He could be loaned to a Jamaican team (or elsewhere) if MLS approves it.
“We will have him back. The matter of time is the question,” Tanner said.
Fortunately, Union manager Jim Curtin expects to have Sergio Santos and Marco Fabián available this weekend after injury absences.
“Sergio and Marco have trained fully,” Curtin said. “Sergio has looked really good in training, itching to get back and help. … [Fabián] has looked sharp in training, but at the same time isn’t quite 100 percent yet; I think that’s fair to say. We’re weighing right now do we use him as a reserve, do we use him as a starter?”
“He’ll resume training I would hope in the next week and a half, two weeks. … It’s important that he heals as quickly as possible.”
Mark McKenzie, meanwhile, is out for at least another week and a half as he recovers from appendicitis. That means he won’t see the field until after the U.S. national team’s under-20 men’s World Cup roster is announced next Friday. Curtin said “it’s going to be a close call” as to whether McKenzie is able to play in a game before leaving, whether for the Union or Bethlehem Steel.