TUKWILA, Wash. — Marc Burch may only be a couple months removed from toe surgery, but he’s putting his best foot forward at Sounders training camp. The former D.C. United player has been giving it his all in training as he looks to push incumbent Leo González for the starting left back role.
After about a week of formal training camp, the 27-year-old left back spoke of getting a new start in Seattle. At the end of the 2011 season, Burch indicated it was he who approached D.C. about moving to a new team.
“I think I had a good time in D.C.,” Burch said. “I spent five years there and they were good years, but it was time to move on. When I spoke with D.C., I said I was ready to move on. When Seattle wanted me, it was a big opportunity for me and I’m happy to be out here.”
The Sounders front office showed the initiative to select Burch in the second round of the Re-Entry Draft, trading up to select the defender with the first overall pick. In Seattle, Burch finds himself in a battle with González for minutes at left back.
Although the season is well more than a month away, Burch is eager to try to claim the spot as his own.
“I hope so,” Burch replied when asked about if he could be the starter. “[Head coach Sigi Schmid] brought me in knowing that I am a left back and that they already have one left back.
“I know Leo and Tyson [Wahl] split some time last year and could expect to see the same thing, but you never know with injuries, with how teams are playing, momentum,” Burch added. “We have a lot of games. I think there will be opportunities and whoever shows the best should be in the starting lineup.”
At 27, Burch is four years younger than González. A former striker in college, he provides good on-the-ball skills, which should help the team in their build-up play. He can also strike long balls with good accuracy.
González, on the other hand, is more familiar with the system and the other players. Schmid mentioned that he struggled with an injury for much of last season but really came on toward the end of the year, supplanting Wahl as the first-choice left back. The Costa Rican has been Seattle’s opening-day starter at left back in each of the past two seasons.
Schmid complimented González as being a bit quicker and bit better on the turn than Burch. He also said the Costa Rican came to camp fitter this season and has been very disciplined in his rehab from the injury that hampered him in 2011.
With most of the other positions solidified, the battle for left back will be one of the preseason’s most interesting storylines.
“It’s going to be good,” Schmid said. “We are going to have depth there and we are going to have options there. I’m confident in Leo playing there and I’m confident in Marc Burch playing there.”